It may be something of a cliché, but business really is all about people.
No matter what your business does, at some point you will have to interact with other people – business partners, suppliers, employees, clients, investors, as well as various other stakeholders.
So it’s incredibly important that the way you communicate casts you in a positive light. Failing to do this is probably the single most effective way to stymie or even damage your business’s progress.
During my professional career I’ve learnt a lot of things about professional communication. But in all my dealings with other people, I’ve discovered four several fairly common traits that are especially annoying and can really put me off working with someone.
Not Responding Quickly
If I attempt to communicate with a professional contact, I expect a response or at least an acknowledgement that my message has been received.
All too often, however, emails, answer machine messages, and SMSs are met with stony silence.
Of course, I don’t expect people to respond immediately. But leaving it, say, a week, before responding without an apology or explanation is incredibly annoying.
Delays interfere with schedules and work timetables, and not knowing if your contact has seen or even received your message adds an element of uncertainty that makes working with them extremely difficult.
Failing to Convey Problems
Sometimes, and this happens to all of us, something happens that means you’re unable to deliver work in time for a previously agreed deadline. Having probably been in this situation themselves, I think that most of your contacts will be familiar with this scenario.
However there is no excuse for failing to communicate the fact that you’re having problems.
Telling a contact at the very last minute that you’re unable to meet a deadline can wreak havoc with that person’s activities, and may, in turn, even cause them miss their own deadlines.
Avoid putting your contacts in this compromising position by communicating any problems you’re having as and when they occur. People are generally understanding when it comes to legitimate problems, it’s the break-down of communications that ruins business relationships.
Jargon and Management-Speak
I’m certainly not alone on this one: last year the BBC found that the heavy use of jargon and management-speak was among the most annoying habits in professional situations.
Far from making the person using them seem professional, the heavy use of jargon and management-speak makes engaging in a useful dialogue with that person particularly difficult, wastes time, and often just confuses the person on the receiving end of it.
In truth, business buzzwords and platitudes are incredibly annoying, and can even obstruct or prevent productive conversations taking place.
Whether it’s over the phone or via an email, messages that aren’t succinct and coherent make it appear as though you’re out of control.
Ramblers also weaken the impact of the points they’re trying to make; by overwhelming their contact with information, a ramblers core message gets diluted as the recipient scrambles around trying and make sense of what it is they’re saying.
Say it clearly, and say it quickly. That’s my advice.
Do you agree that these traits are annoying? Or perhaps something else really grinds your gears. Let me know your communication bug-bears and horror stories below.