Communication

The most importance sentence in every email you send

Create interest with the first line of your email!

Create interest with the first line of your email!

By Karen Adamedes

The most importance sentence in every email you send, and the one that you should spend the most time on, is…the first one.

It should, as hopefully the first sentence of this blog does :), convey to your reader exactly what your email is about.

It should create interest for your reader. let them know what it is about and make them want to read more.

The challenge is that the people that you are sending important emails to – ones that require actions and answers and approvals  – are likely to be receiving 100 or more emails per day; that are all fighting with yours for attention.

The objective is to break through the distractions of the rest of their emails and focus their attention on what you need. Give them a good reason to want to read the detail below and understand what will be required of them.

An email that starts with an opening sentence “I would like to request approval for ….” is likely to generate interest to understand why you are asking for whatever it is you need. (And the more that you ask for the more interested they will be to understand why!)

Whilst “Please find below details of the customer service complaint from …. that requires your immediate action…” explains exactly what the email is about and that there is a required action.

No ambiguity. No confusion.

Ask for exactly what you want. Explain what it is about.

And then provide further details.

Career Tip To Go: Explain what your email is about in the first sentence

And, of course, follow on with good quality content…and you’ll be good to go!

 

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Career Tip To Go: The best words for business writing

use simple business-like words that are easy to understand

Questions or Answers? Which are most important?

Questions and answers in business communications

Is it more important to have the answer? Or the right question?

By Karen Adamedes

It’s wonderful to arrive at answers. From what to have for dinner to the meaning of life (and everything in between) answers provide clarity, certainty and a way forward.

And they help us demonstrate what we know. But often times it’s the question that is asked that helps get not just to an answer, but the best answer.

“What would you like for dinner?” can yield a much different result, with a lot more possibilities, than “Would you like Pizza or Spaghetti?” 

Science and math often have only one correct answer to a problem. A specific problem. But unless you work in these disciplines there are not many problems that need to be solved in a career in business that have only one single, clear, correct answer.

Often a number of alternatives can be right. And it is often the process that gets you to an answer that is important to get you, and the people you work with, to the best outcomes.

And that process – is to ask questions.

Questions can help you:

  • find out what other people think, their preferences and needs
  • uncover issues or concerns that you weren’t aware of
  • learn new information
  • be offered alternatives or ideas that you didn’t think of. Or even know existed.
  • confirm that your own thinking was correct (nice when this happens!)
  • have an interaction with someone that stimulates your own thinking and ideas
  • check your understanding of a situation or what you’ve been told

And countless more benefits!

From my experience there are 3 additional very significant benefits to asking questions that can impact on your effectiveness at work and credibility.

What are they I hear you ask?

1. Relationship building.

Asking questions is a great way to build a relationship with another person. It also applies to building relationships in groups, teams, departments and even across organizations. (They’re all made up of people, right?)

Questions can help you do this by:

  • demonstrating your respect for the other person by seeking their opinion
  • acknowledging their expertise
  • actively encouraging their involvement in an issue through discussion

Questions encourage conversation.

Conversation is communication. Good communication.

And you never know what you will learn…

2. Demonstrate your knowledge.

Asking questions actually provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate what you know, how much you understand about a topic or at the very least, the thought processes you have followed to get to your question.

Others will judge your competence and your credibility by the quality of the questions that you ask.

There are plenty of occasions in business when the questions you ask can be more important than the answers you give.

Take a job interview. I’ve interviews hundreds of people over the years for jobs and promotions. It is often the answer to the casual question at the end of the interview, “Do you have any questions for me about the job/role/company”, that is one of the most important.

Too often the answer is “No, I think I’m right. I know what I need to know for now” Really? How can they possibly know everything they need to know? Aren’t they meant to be assessing whether the role/company/me as manager is right for them? (That’s a big fat fail in my books – just in case you were wondering!)

But ask a quality question that demonstrates good knowledge or demonstrates your thinking …and this can be more insightful for the interviewer than the answers that have been given to technical or procedural questions in the interview.

This is just one example of many work situations where questions are vital!

3. Contribute to discussions.

Have you ever been in a meeting where you are not the main speaker or the subject matter expert?

Have you felt a bit awkward about speaking up?

A question is the answer!

A well thought out question that demonstrates your understanding of the topic, your thought processes or even that you were listening can do a lot for your credibility. And it gives you a chance to contribute.

The Career Tip To Go:

The ability to ask questions is a skill all in itself.

The benefits to your credibility, effectiveness at work and relationships with others make it an area well worth investing some time and effort.

Would you like to learn how to ask more questions? Next time you go to say something, how about thinking how you could reword your thought/comment and ask it as a question?

You never know what you’ll learn. Do you?

 

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9 Communication Skills for Career Success

Meaningful communication can achieve great work, strong relationships and positive credibility.

Meaningful communication can achieve great work, strong relationships and positive credibility.

By Karen Adamedes

Understanding and adapting your communication to the accepted style of business can have a substantial impact on your career potential, how much you enjoy your work and how your contributions are recognized.

Your interactions with others is the foundation of how you build and manage your image, reputation and relationships.

Communication is the mechanism of how work is done in organizations.

To work effectively and to manage your career these skills are vital. 

Communication skills support your career by helping you get across:

  • the value of what you do
  • the contributions you make
  • how well you are doing it
  • what you need to do your job
  • how you work with others
  • the benefits for others of what you do
  • who you are

9 Skills To Communicate

The 9 key skills that enable you to communicate effectively in business are your abilities to:

1. Choose your words

The words you use can help people understand what you actually mean – not what they think you mean.

It’s most effective to use  words that are:

    • positive
    • clear
    • action-oriented
    • solution focused
    • problem solving
    • unambiguous
    • brief
    • to the point

Using words that are straightforward and commonly understood greatly increases the chance that what you mean when you say something is what the other person understands.

2. Be heard

It is a skill in itself to cut through the ‘noise’ of work so that what you say, the email that you send or the presentation that you make, is actually listened to, read or even heard. People are busy and have multiple competing priorities. The ability to get people to pause, pay attention or take the time to think about what you are saying is vital for your communication to have any impact.

To be heard requires the abilities to:

  • speak with confidence
  • order information so that you grab attention or create interest
  • set expectations about your communication
  • demonstrate that you know your stuff
  • be clear and concise
  • use analogies to paint visual pictures
  • know what you want to say and say it

These abilities are necessary so that what you have to say will get a chance to be heard…then you have a chance of getting the outcome from the communication that you need!

3. Present

Presentation skills are now a mandatory requirement in business. Whether using them to inform, influence or gain approval they are also the ideal forum to ‘sell’ your value and build your reputation.

When you are presenting you have center stage and should have the attention of the audience. The trick is to present in a way that will keep people off their smart phones and listening to you.

Knowing how to take advantage of your time in the spotlight includes:

  • preparation
  • planning
  • quality content
  • objectives for your presentation
  • knowledge of the needs of the audience
  • structure
  • rehearsals
4. Write well

The ability to write well provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate the very best of your knowledge, skills and expertise without any preconceptions.

It allows you to be persuasive, table your ideas, demonstrate your thinking, articulate your position, justify your recommendations or requests and be clear about what you ask for.

Writing well helps show your strengths and proficiency, get things done and positively builds your image and reputation.

5. Speak with your actions

The most powerful communications can happen without needing to speak or write a word.

Body language and non-verbal communications need to to show consistency with and reinforce what you say.

These skills can be developed by aligning your body language with your intent, being confident with your posture and gestures and a range of other actions from proactively shaking hands to being aware of your eye contact and other non-verbal signals.

6. Engage

There are many times when you need to work with key stakeholders who are impacted by what you do or whose approval you need. It can be time consuming to get people on board and explain what you’re doing and what it means to them – but it can fast track achieving business outcomes if you engage with each person from their perspective.

Genuine rapport and understanding can be built – and even if you don’t persuade them to your point of you – they will respect you and your approach.

These skills not only include what you say but how you say it, when you say it and sometimes the order that you conduct your communications with others.

7. Listen

Two ears, one mouth. Enough said. You know the drill.

8. Adapt

Whether it’s to different audiences or through different mediums the skill to adapt is powerful for effective communication.

Knowing when to use the appropriate stories, style and messaging is a skill in itself. Being able to adapt these as appropriate will help you meet the needs of your audience and get your message across to them.

9. Ask questions

The most powerful tool of them all. Asking questions will help you find out information you may never have had otherwise, confirm what you know (and give you credibility that you asked) and even provide a subtle way of demonstrating what you know or how much you understand about a topic through the quality of your questions.

Meaningful communication is two-way, mutually beneficial with consistency in the messages and the needs of the other person or audience taken into consideration.

When it happens great work, strong relationships and positive credibility can all be achieved.

Career Tips To Go: Continue to develop your communication skills (always!)

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