Viv Hardy, 1487 days ago

There is no successful business around today that does not rely heavily on effective business communication – whether it is internally with staff, externally with clients or customers or, as in most instances, a combination of both.

However, it is not a natural skill for organisations, or individuals and it can fail very easily, as evidenced by the current breakdown in talks around the RET in Parliament House for example..

We are not born talking. It is a learned skill and most of us have our basic linguistic skills under control by the time we are about two or three. Similarly, listening is a learned skill but unfortunately many of us take considerably more time to acquire the skill of effective listening. Some, I’ve discovered never acquire it.

This is one of the greatest barriers to productive and harmonious practices at home and in the workplace. The very instinctive human tendency to judge, to evaluate and to approve (or disapprove) statements – written or oral – made by another persons can be lethal, costly and time consuming in the office environment.

And, although the tendency exists to make evaluations in almost all interchange of language, it is much more to the fore when feelings and emotions are charged or heightened. The stronger our feelings, the more likely that it that there will be no mutual element in communication. There will just be a miscellaneous collection of ideas, feelings, judgements, missing each other in a psychological war zone.

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Real communication is about genuinely understanding the other person’s perspective and framing your message accordingly. And while a lot of people pay lip service to the concept, very few actually demonstrate a true understanding of the mechanics of positive and persuasive communications in the business environment.

Before articulating your own point of view, be that in writing or verbally, you need to know where your target audience is coming from. You need to understand his, her or their collective thoughts and feelings so well that you could summarise them accurately. In doing this you will be less emotive, better able to focus on the positives, reduce the differences and more rationally deal with the differences that remain.

There is no doubt that the ability to listen and understand rather than hear, evaluate and pass judgement contributes greatly to the success of an organisation. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But not so easy in practice.

Throughout her 35 year career in communications for the professional services sector, Viv Hardy has obtained extensive expertise in the areas of strategic corporate and community public relations, integrated marketing communications planning, initial public offer publicity, corporate report writing, annual results reporting and investor relations….

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