Service business leaders might be tempted to skip over an article on communication… but that would be a costly mistake! This article reveals three powerful ways to grow your business, improve your team, and become more profitable – all through the power of better communication.
From the moment we’re born, we’re communicating. We’re noisy and not very articulate but our crying alerts our parents that we need something. We have to learn how to walk and hold a spoon but communication is a skill we’re born with.
We grow out of the one form of communication that babies use and (fortunately!) we learn to speak and listen. However, at some point, most people stop honing their communication skills because they’ve learned enough to get through life. But they’re ignoring the opportunity to dramatically improve their personal and professional relationships, and elevate their entire lives.
As a service business leader, you can level up your communication skills to instantly build rapport and gain the trust of employees and customers, create positive change in your business, and even increase sales and profits! In this article, you’ll learn three ways to communicate more effectively. Implement these and see a massive, immediate improvement in your business!
Communication Tip #1. Listen To What They AREN’T Saying
As you connect with customers and employees, they’ll talk to you and you’ll listen to them. Most leaders understand how important it is to listen when people talk to you. But often overlooked is what you need to listen to.
Communication is made up of several components – and words are just one of them. Tone and body language are important, as is the context that the conversation is happening in. When you listen to someone, don’t just take in the words they say. Listen to their tone, read their body language, and carefully consider the context. Each of these will give you deeper clues into what the person is saying.
Here’s an example: If you ask a customer how they liked the service they received from your company and they tell you “it was fine,” you might be overlooking other information: if their tone turns clipped, if their body language is closed (such as if they have folded arms), and if you’re a male stranger standing in the home of a female customer, there’s a good chance that “fine” means something other than “good.” It may even mean that the service was bad but they’re too nervous to confront you about it!
So listen with your ears… and your eyes and your mind! You’ll get the real truth behind what customers and employees are thinking and you’ll be able to build positive relationships faster.
Communication Tip #2. Encourage Conflict
Most people don’t want conflict; we’re wired to avoid it. But conflict is actually good. I like using the example of a forest fire: it seems bad to the forest but naturally occurring forest fires are very good for the forest by clearing out old growth and dead wood and making room for new growth. In interpersonal relationships, conflict can be good as well. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should go pick a fight with someone.
Healthy conflict arises from a difference of opinion and from ideas that are not immediately in perfect harmony. Conflict alerts you to the possibility that there are other ways to approach a situation and other viewpoints besides your own. Exploring all the possibilities allows you try new things, and perhaps discover a better way.
As a leader, don’t dampen conflict in your business. Instead, manage it, encourage it, and cultivate it… but do so carefully. Make your business a safe place to share ideas and dissenting opinions, encourage everyone to have their own viewpoint, and guard all debates from becoming personal.
(Bonus tip: In our business, we use a safe word – “bamboo” – which someone can call out whenever a conversation gets heated. As soon as we hear “bamboo” the meeting stops immediately and we leave the discussion so everyone can cool down.)
Communication Tip #3. Become A Copycat
When you were a child, one sure way for someone to get under your skin was if they copied everything you said. It’s a timeless way for kids to annoy each other! It may surprise you to learn that, as adults, the same skill might actually help you develop stronger relationships with people!
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you repeat what someone says verbatim. However, if you mimic them, you automatically align yourself with what they’re saying and it creates a bond between the two of you. This is a rapid rapport building technique that works every time.
Here’s what to copy:
- Stand or sit in a similar way that they are (mimicking their posture, how their feet are pointed, and how their hands are positioned).
- Match their gestures: if they are animated, adopt an animated style; if they are subdued, be subdued.
- Copy their breathing patterns, such as rapid breaths or slow breaths.
- Copy how they speak, including their tone, volume, phrasing, and word choice.
When you match these components, you won’t annoy the person you’re speaking to; you’ll actually gain their trust! This is a powerful way to connect with employees and customers and create an ally in the conversation.
Here’s What To Do Now
In this article, I’ve shared just three simple ways that you can communicate more effectively. Practice these and implement them and you will see immediate, positive results in your personal and professional relationships. There are many more secrets to successful communication beyond the three I’ve shared here. Communication is a skill that we should never stop learning and mastering. In my latest book, Secrets Of Communication Mastery, write about 18 laser-focused tactics that you can use to communicate more effective, which will build rapport and trust, get your point across, serve your customers and employees, and grow your business.