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7 Communication barriers to avoid for small businesses

7 communication barriers to avoid for a small businesses You don’t have to be a communication guru to be good at communicating but it helps when dealing with some of the stakeholders in your business; management, staff or clients. You can reduce the sheer volume of information you communicate by sharing some of it online rather than face to face. Either way many things need to be considered when improving the efficiency of your communication. Being a good and effective communicator is one of the most valuable skills to have in business and within the workplace.

There are two primary types of communication, verbal or non-verbal. Non verbal communication would include the tone, pitch or volume used during verbal communication, body language, gestures, proximity from the person you are addressing and facial expressions and micro expressions.

Listening is a key communication skill Good listeners in business are rare.

Too many people are desperate to get their own point across, without listening to anyone else or they actually really only want to hear the sound of their own voice. Most of us take listening for granted. Effective listening can often be at the very core of a good relationship whether personal or within a business environment.

Whether you’re a Start Up owner or SME manager.

As a manager, director or business owner within a Start Up or SME you can be called on to take part in communication with any of the stakeholders of that business; your staff, managers, fellow board members, suppliers, customers or bank. This means the better you are at communicating (and maybe negotiation) the easier and less stressful you will find these interactions.

When it goes well...

Good or well done communication is one of those things that can make us feel exhilarated. Especially, if you’ve been anxious about a difficult conversation and its gone better than you feared it might. Perhaps, you are a manager and you have had to discipline a poorly performing member of staff. If the communication has been excellent leading up to the meeting, the staff member knew what was expected of them, knew where they had fallen short of expectations, knew the reasons for that had lead to them not hitting the target and had accepted that they were in control of those reasons then the meeting is almost a formality, because the staff member will already have walked themselves mentally, through the process before entering the room.

When it goes wrong...

I am sure, like me, you have all had the other type of performance appraisal, where communication has been sparse or completely absent leading up to the meeting. Therefore, for the member of staff that is being spoken to, in their mind the need for action has come as a complete surprise and they react angrily, creating a conflict of opinion and a very difficult meeting.

When communication goes wrong publicly as Gerald Ratner found to his and the company’s cost, it can go spectacularly wrong. That misplaced phrase or not thought out speech can have a very negative effect on your or your company’s prospects or in Ratner’s case, share price.

Communication expectations and benefits.

As a manager or director of a Start Up or SME we are expected to be part of so much communication these days and it’s not surprising that some of it gets missed or ignored, some of it gets forgotten and not sent and that duplication or misunderstandings occur. So good, effective and timely communication within a business can really only have a positive effect on that business.

Here are 7 benefits of good communication within a business:

  • Staff morale is higher because conflict is reduced
  • You learn to be a good communicator, a great transferrable skill
  • Better and stronger relationships
  • Greater visibility and transparency
  • Your voice is heard and you are listened to more often
  • Meetings and interactions are more productive
  • Work becomes a more enjoyable place to be

Barriers to good communication.

Barriers to good communication come in many shapes and sizes and can quite often include technology. Too many people rely on technology for the sort of communication that would be better done face to face, by Skype or Viber or even old school, over the phone. Messages where tone and facial expression can give a completely different meaning to a sentence or phrase when compared to the same phrase sent using a dispassionate text or email.

There are also many barriers to effective communication here are just 7 of them:

  • Poor listening skills
  • Jargon or the use of overly complicated language
  • Conflict between language and gestures
  • Emotional – anger or stress
  • Speech or hearing disabilities
  • Too many distractions, lack of attention or interest
  • Differences in perception or values

Business Scenario.

Imagine a scenario where you are managing one team of people at one location or several teams of people at different sites, the risk of poor communication or there being a “communication gap” is magnified several fold. This makes it even more important than when you do communicate one on one or with your managers or team, that the message is focussed and succinct. One of the ways to do this is to “remove” the important but repetitive information from key discussions. No longer discuss a schedule or shift pattern, booked staff absences or training schedule reduces the communication content to the very important. So utilise a system that does all of this repetitive information communication automatically or at the click of a “publish” button. A system that allows all managers and staff access wherever they are and whenever they want to.

Using technology can help achieve good communication.

Use technology as your friend to achieve good communication. Choose your businesses management technology wisely. Select a program for each area of your business that allows and encourages interaction between you and your staff and exceptionally your clients. Pick one that can track and monitor the boring but essential bits of your business that you need to track for accreditation, certification or a British Standard. These could be passport copies, driving licences, certificates, communication trails, assets and work schedules.

Select a flexible system for flexible working allowing the management of permanent and temporary staff. Like Event or Festival Staffing companies for example, where you might employ temporary staff who are students, it would be great if the system can switch them on and off so that only populate the schedules when they are around. By removing the mundane information from your interactions with your managers, staff and clients the information you then communicate becomes that much more important and easy to focus on.

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