In the business world, there is an immense focus on responding to communication whether you are a CFO or a Brand Manager and most certainly if you are an Entrepreneur. As a Coach, I spend a great time on deliberating on linking communication to your ideal self. My area of interest or to say exploration is a kind of strategic communication which is clear and precise yet in a sense positive in its texture and flavor.
I will share two examples here. I had a client (let me called her Amita) who left her job few years back as a Banker and started her business consulting practice. Once through word of mouth she got a client who wanted to start a corporate gifting business. Amita did not charge for meetings which normally many consultants do. Amita had a wonderful first meeting with the client and they discussed how the client can take her business to the next level. The client was also happy and told Amita that their board members would also like to meet her (Amita) and then they would go in for a formal consultancy agreement with accepted commercials. Amita also promised to send some templates related to branding and promotion. Once the meeting was over, Amita was excited. This was perhaps the first time she was involved in a bigger project because this client already had few businesses and she thought she would get a substantial work from them. She did email the client quiet a few templates and related material. However, she did not hear from the client for a long while. She messaged the client after a fortnight, asking if they could talk about the next steps in their professional relationship. The client told Amita that thanks to their meeting, they were ready to launch their business. Amita was shocked as the client did not recall the conversation about a paid consulting agreement with the involvement of board members. Finally this did not materialize as Amita thought it would.
The second example is about a friend. He is a Human Resource leader with a big multinational company now. Few years back, he was working as an independent consultant, as a career break arrangement and he was looking forward to go back to a corporate HR job. During that time, he was headhunted by a leading global nonprofit and they asked to meet him. The lady who ran the nonprofit was a TEDx speaker with an admirable Resumé. After a 45 minute discussion, the nonprofit leader offered a part time consultant role in Human Resources to him, for few months till the time they would set up India operations and once the systems would be set, he could as well take the option of full time engagement. My friend told her that he would take a couple of days to decide. After a day, he called the lady and told her that he was ready for the assignment. The response was that there was no discussion about the offer and the lady politely disconnected the phone! Again it was very shocking for my friend who thought (and rightly so!) that he was offered the role.
In both the cases above, the clear and precise communication is missing and the people were casual and showed no commitment to what they assured to the other side. Let us reflect on the first example. We can imagine that perhaps the client's board of directors brainstormed and came to a conclusion that they were not keen on going ahead with the consultant as their budgets were tight. In this scenario, what should be a clear, precise and positive response? How does this email sound?
It was wonderful to discuss the business plan with you on Tuesday. You came across as a committed professional with great expertise and I am so grateful that you shared relevant templates with me, which helped me plan and deliberate. I discussed with my board about our meeting but unfortunately they decided not to engage a consultant at this moment, considering our tight budgets this quarter. This does not mean that we do not trust your strengths as a consultant. We are willing to pay your fees for the time you spent with me and the templates that you shared on Tuesday evening. Whenever we are looking forward to take our business to next level, I will keep you in mind
Let us connect for a coffee soon. Thanks for your time
The email above is clear, precise and positive in its tonality. Such kind of response has a power. If Amita had received such kind of response, she would have been happier and would not have treated this experience as a setback. This is powerful for the sender as well as there is a sense of satisfaction that one is very clear about what one speaks. This clarity even helps in becoming better at what you are and people value you for this attribute. More and more people trust those who have clarity and precision in communication, especially in terms of responding to someone.
In the second example, perhaps the nonprofit leader found a better fit for the role being offered to my friend. She could have been the first to take the lead to inform him by saying that though she offered him a consultant position, she found someone with experience in a similar organization who was willing to start immediately. She could have also given her apology for the confusion. Although it would have been still slightly unprofessional but it would have been much better than feigning ignorance of the job offer.
I personally believe that people are generally good but sometimes they fail to understand that people whom they are dealing with in business or even in personal life need a clear and precise response which can be positive in nature as well. Sometimes they are either laidback or lack empathy and understanding. I have titled this article as "The Power of a clear, precise and positive response". Power is something that makes you the controller of your area of influence. When you are known to be clear and precise, it is a power because this helps you to be a better version of yourself. When you minimize ambiguity in your communication and become clear, your life will get a new meaning and you will see people start respecting your relationship management abilities and would develop better trust in you. It is like the purpose driven leadership where you tell yourself that you would de-clutter your thoughts and respond as precisely as you would. Isn't this a precious attribute?
In our day to day life, we spend a lot of time and efforts into responding to others. If we become much more thoughtful, we can make people around us happier.
Sandeep is a leadership and well-being coach who likes to work with people in the area of strategic leadership communication.
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