smb-tech-trendsIn yesterday’s post, I wrote about the range of technology available today to communicate – texting, tweeting, launching an audio conference over a smartphone from anywhere, not to mention traditional desk phones. But tools only provide the pipeline. How you communicate or how you exchange information to get everyone’s point across and make them feel invested in your small business is much different.

Here are five tips to fine tune your communication skills and set an example for others who work for you to follow:

Listen…carefully: Effective communication starts with listening. If you find yourself talking at someone, providing endless details and insights about an issue or experience, take a deep breath. Your goal is to encourage two-way communication so that you learn from the other person’s experiences and point of view.

Ask questions to get input: Questions that can be answered with yes or no can end a team around tableconversation in a nanosecond. If you are truly looking to have a give-and-take conversation, ask your team open ended questions: What do you think about that latest trend? What are customers telling you when they call in? How do you think we should reply to our competitor’s latest announcement? Open ended questions help to get at the heart of an issue.

Don’t get ahead of yourself: I’m sure you’ve had the experience of talking to someone and they interject questions before you’ve had time to answer. I don’t think they are intentionally being rude but they may be so enthusiastic about the conversation, their minds go into overdrive. Effective listening means putting your brain in neutral to let someone talk and holding questions until the person has finished.

Stop mentally crafting your response: Conversation shouldn’t be a contest. No one wins if you haven’t learned something or have a better understanding of the other person. Don’t start shaping your answer while the other person is still talking. It will divert your attention from listening.

Let people have their say: Everyone needs to be heard, especially if you want to develop your team to take on major responsibilities to help drive your small business. Whether it’s an impromptu conversation or a team meeting, give everyone a chance to talk and be open about what they say.

Effective communication is at the heart of every successful company. Whether you are face to face or across the country or the globe, listen and learn and encourage everyone in your small business to do the same.