How to Expand Your Sphere of Influence Through Better Business Communications

People of influence are the men and women within an organization whose opinions count – not necessarily because they rank high on an ‘org’ chart but – because they have acknowledged experience or are associated with people of authority.

This article is one in a series of five articles on how to expand your sphere of influence through better communications.
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If you add fancy footwork, a unique flick of the wrist or extra lower body movement, you may connect occasionally but, in the
end, you’ll create more problems. Be consistent. That way, even under pressure, you’ll always remember exactly what should be done to succeed.

This advice applies equally well to the world of
business communication. People judge you all day, every day, on many
factors including the words and phrases you use. Too often, business
people believe they will appear more professional if they cloak
their written and spoken messages in pompous words and clichés
.
But it doesn’t work. Don’t try to impress your readers or listeners.
They are too busy to find convoluted messages interesting or useful.

In writing

Focus on what the reader wants to know and needs to know
and deliver that message, using words the reader can easily understand.
Contrary to popular belief, polysyllabic words and passive voice
sentences will not make you look professional in the reader’s eyes—only
clarity and conciseness will.

In preparing e-mails

Tell the reader why he should read your e-mail in the
opening line. Too many writers deliver an e-mail in a chronological
order. They give the background information first and wait for the last
screen before telling the reader what they want from him. As many people
read opening paragraphs to decide whether to continue reading, backward
writing is not effective. Deliver “the hook” first.

If you have a deadline, place it in the subject line.
That way every time the reader opens his inbox, he’ll see your time
line.

In listening

Use your eyes, as well as your ears, to listen. Don’t
busy yourself mentally rehearsing how you are going to top the speaker’s
comments. Keep it simple. Stay in the moment and work with the
information the speaker is giving you. Ask him questions to extend his
thoughts and to further clarify his viewpoint.

In leaving voice mail

Deliver a strong upbeat and brief message. Don’t get
cute. Be polite, firm and assertive. You have only 10 to 15
seconds to make a good impression.
Never start with “I’m sorry
I missed your call.” No one believes it.

Offer callers the option of reaching someone
immediately. Say what you need from them—a message, a name, a phone
number. Tell them when you will return their call or the best time to
call you back. Let them know if the message has a time limit. Change
your messages as often as necessary.

In speaking

People take their cues from your language when deciding
whether or not they want to co-operate with you. If you bluster,
exaggerate or try to upstage others, you won’t gain creditability.
Winning speakers communicate in a straightforward fashion. They project
positive expectations, give credit where it’s due, speak decisively, and
tell the truth.

Whether you are swinging a club on the golf course or
communicating in the business world, remember—for a positive finish—keep
it simple.

About Jane Watson

© Jane Watson is dedicated to advancing business communications. jane@jwatsonassociates.com or (905) 820-9909.

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