Enhancing Your Communication Skills
Though people in the printing industry are in the communication business, they aren’t always personally skilled in the art of information exchange. A brush-up on communication skills can make a big difference in how customers and others perceive company executives and other personnel, and how effective they are in their print business jobs.
At Gimbel & Associates, we conduct workshops and training to help our clients communicate with their teams, customers, suppliers, and other important entities.
We teach printing professionals when to use communication channels and we conduct role-playing exercises to get people comfortable with enhancing their communication skills.
When is Training and Coaching Most Needed?
One common scenario we encounter is when companies promote staffers from production line duties to supervisory responsibilities or to roles where they interact directly with customers or suppliers, without providing them training or guidance in the additional skills they need.
The skills that made them successful in operations, such as the ability to operate equipment and manage print jobs, aren’t enough when they step into a position of authority. These individuals can benefit from coaching to improve their communication skills.
Elements of Communication
Here are a few highlights from our comprehensive workshops. The act of of communicating includes these three elements:
- The words you use (7% of communication)
- Your tone of voice, accent, and speed of talking (38% of communication)
- Your body language and facial expressions (55% of communication)
Experts say that when speaking to someone in-person or via video conference, the receiver will first pay attention to non-verbal clues. How you present yourself will have a big impact on the effectiveness of your message. Next, receivers will notice your tone and how you deliver the message with your voice. Only after rapidly processing those first two elements will receivers actually listen to your words.
Note that when communicating in writing, the first two communication elements do not exist. You must use words alone to convey your sentiment and purpose. Pay careful attention to wording to ensure the message is understandable and is clear about what action you want the receiver to take.
When to use email or phone?
Another common question from our clients is when to use email (or text) versus a phone call. Email is so quick and easy that print managers and supervisors are tempted to use it for every communication, but it can lead to misunderstanding. Here are instances when a phone call, a videochat, or an in-person meeting is more appropriate:
- You need to apologize – Apologies carry much more meaning when you can say “I’m sorry” with your voice.
- You expect a lot of questions – Handling questions in a phone call is more efficient. Relying on an email string bogs down the communication and can confuse matters even worse. If you need to clarify or confirm understanding after hanging up, then you can follow up with an email.
- You’ll be delivering complicated instructions – If you must walk someone through a multi-step process, be patient and help them in real time on the phone so you can provide immediate feedback. Written instructions can be provided for later use.
- Your response is late – Emails requesting an action by your company may have gotten buried in the inbox. It happens to everyone. When it does, receivers who were expecting more prompt action appreciate someone who acknowledges the delay by picking up the phone.
- It’s a personal topic – Don’t discuss personal matters via email. In person or phone conversations allow receivers to feel you understand the significance of the topic. They will appreciate the empathy.
- The message is really important – Don’t risk an urgent message being sidetracked by a spam filter or left unread in an inbox. When your message involves a deadline, be sure your contacts receive and understand your message. You can only do that with the instant feedback possible with personal communications.