Every successful business leader needs to know how to communicate effectively. Both written and verbal communication skills are crucial if you want to build and maintain strong relationships with your employees, customers and partners.
These essential communications insights are often learned throughout an entrepreneur’s journey, and sometimes they can come to you through unexpected career situations. That’s why we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share the best communication lessons they’ve learned during their careers so far. Here are their top 10 lessons and why each was so impactful.
1. Be Transparent Above All Else
Transparency is incredibly important in building trust with internal and external stakeholders. Withholding and hiding information leads to feelings of distrust and opens the door for false narratives to begin. One can avoid that type of situation completely by giving their audience appropriate access to information. Welcome questions. If you’re unable to provide an answer, explain why. – Traci Beach, Craft Impact
2. Build Connections Through Vulnerability And Authenticity
Vulnerability and authenticity connect you to your team. As the pandemic unfolded, there were a lot of unknowns. Gut instinct is to wait to communicate until you have all the answers. This is the wrong approach. With this crisis, everybody was reading the news and was scared. As a leader, I found it important to communicate what I knew and the actions we were taking. My team appreciated that. – Tony Scherba, Yeti
3. When In Doubt, Overcommunicate
I always overcommunicate. Nobody complains about being too informed, so clear and informative communication is a good way to begin. When you learn the style that works best for certain clients or team members, you can adjust accordingly. Additionally, you should never assume anything. Pay close attention to key phrases and specifics. We all know the old adage about what happens when you assume. – Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media
4. Look The Other Party In The Eye
Always look people in the eye when you speak to them. It displays honesty and earns trust over time. It’s a core component of your body language. It shows confidence and sincerity, and if you are your product, then there is no better reason to come across with those values. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
5. Listen, Don’t Assume
Rarely, if ever, do we think of communicating as listening. If you really want to communicate effectively, you also have to learn to listen instead of assuming. Failing to listen could cause you to draw wrong conclusions and fall into misunderstandings with others. If you really want to communicate well, it is incredibly important to train yourself to listen first, then respond. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
6. Don’t Set The Wrong Expectations
Communication is important in all areas of life, but especially in business. If you don’t properly communicate to vendors, investors, clients and customers, then you set the wrong expectation from the start. When telling customers what to expect, make sure you only promise exactly what you can offer and nothing more. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
7. Sandwich Constructive Feedback Between Compliments
A helpful tip that I use often is to sandwich negative feedback between compliments. Constructive criticism is vital for growth, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. You can make it more palatable by starting with a positive phrase and then sharing your real feedback and ending it with another positive statement. This reminds the recipient that they’re valued. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. Be Direct And Ask For What You Want
When I first started out, I was so afraid to bother or offend someone (even though I wasn’t doing anything offensive). I was never direct enough about what I wanted or when I needed help. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to be more direct in my efforts that I started making big strides, and with that, my confidence began to grow. Always ask for what you want or need. – Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy
9. Be Willing To Compromise
I think the ability to think critically and compromise is without a doubt the most important communication lesson I’ve learned in a long time. When we get fixated on an idea, it’s not always easy to see the flaws in it. You have to be willing to listen to what other people say and take their opinions into consideration if you want to be an effective communicator. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC
10. Craft Thorough, Unambiguous Follow-Up Questions
Limit unclear follow-up questions was the main lesson I learned on the job a while ago. My boss forbade me to directly ask questions in a group channel until I was able to craft a thorough, comprehensive question with nothing else to clarify. In a week, I was truly prepared to ask unambiguous questions that included each and every relevant detail, and I improved my communication skills as a result. – Mario Peshev, DevriX