Whether you are an admin, developer, consultant, superuser or architect, communication matters. Whilst being technically skilled is one thing, you need to bring others with you. For example, you may work with teammates, implementation partners, contractors, customers, and business users. Every stakeholder has their own needs.
I recently completed FlowRepublic’s Communication Bootcamp to see ways I could further my own skills. In this post, I shall cover 3 of the key skills needed for effective communication.
Why good communication matters
High-quality communication helps. For example:
- Engaging and meaningful interactions
- Clarity of thought, vision, and direction (less ambiguity)
- Encouraging openness, inclusivity and trust
- Fostering ideation and problem solving
- Defusing stress, tension and encouraging a more positive outlook
- Improving employability and job prospects
This list could go on. The key point is that effective communication skills are invaluable for any Salesforce professional.
Three skills for effective communication
Let’s now look at three of the key skills needed for effective communication.
Focus on brevity
Less is more. No matter your audience, we can only take in so much information. For example, imagine reading your emails on a Monday morning. One email is short, clear, and to the point. The other is long and rambling. You have an important item to complete before lunch. Which message will you be able (or perhaps more willing!) to focus on? Odds are the shorter message.
Brevity applies to all modes of communication. Remember, your audience must understand your message. Avoid temptations, such as over-explaining. It is easier said than done, but over-explaining detracts from your message. We’ve all been there, trying to pick out key points from a conversation and screen out other information (this is known as ‘selective attention’). Too much information risks causing confusion.
Avoid this by carefully crafting your message. Think about what you’re trying to convey. Is it informational, or requiring a decision? Keep your messaging simple. Ensure your recipient has the time to acknowledge your point before moving on.
Take-home message: Keep your message clear, concise, and easy to understand
Everyone is unique, with different values, attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge. Consider a scenario where you work with a consultant on a project. They are technically skilled, but do not know your business’s process or terminology. Alongside this, they explain concepts to business users in technical terms. This can cause misunderstandings, a lack of trust, or even resistance to new ideas. Such factors can lead to a ‘them and us’ dynamic, which will not help.
Fortunately, you can nurture rapport. For example:
- Active listening. Paying genuine attention for key signals (e.g., body language, keywords, and meanings). Listen to understand, not to respond.
- Ask questions. Use questions to gain insight and understanding. For example, drilling down to determine the root cause of a concern.
- Apply: Establish common ground to base the communication on.
Establishing common ground provides a shared reference point and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings. This can be helpful when discussing complex or contentious issues, by focusing on a common goal.
Key message: Use techniques such as active listening to establish a shared understanding and common ground.
Be emotionally intelligent
Emotional intelligence can seem like a buzzword. For communication, it is an important skill. You must be aware of your own feelings and those of people around you. Of particular importance is empathy. When crafting your message, consider how it will be received.
For example, let’s assume you have peer reviewed a piece of work. During this, you have found an error. How will you deliver the feedback?
Take a step back and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if the feedback was delivered confrontationally? Would you be defensive? Such a negative response is called an ’emotional trigger point’. Once reached, it can take longer to regroup and resolve the issue.
In contrast, by being empathetic, you are considering the recipient’s needs. You can use this to defuse conflict, reduce stress and work towards a shared goal. This allows us to consider how best to deliver our message considerately, helping to ensure a more favourable outcome. In other words, it is not what you say, but how you say it.
Other aspects of emotional intelligence (EI) are also relevant to communication. For more information on emotional intelligence, click here.
Key message: Understand your own and the recipient’s emotions and be empathetic in your message
How can I improve my communication skills?
Like any skill, communication can be improved. There are plenty of resources and courses out there to help. However, I can honestly recommend FlowRepublic’s Communication Bootcamp. I found the sessions thought-provoking and engaging. So much so that I felt inspired to write this post!
The course covered the topics above and more. Each session allowed self-reflection and collaboration with peers. For communication, learning from the experiences of others is invaluable.
In summary, communication is a key skill for anyone. This certainly holds true for any Salesforce role. Effective communication skills can help avoid misunderstandings, confusion, and friction. In this post, I have covered three tips for effective communication: be brief, build rapport, and be emotionally intelligent. This is not exhaustive. However, by actively reflecting on opportunities to improve communication skills, you will not only be helping your team, but your own career prospects.
Until next time, thanks for reading! 🐧
Bonus Penguin Fact
I’m not sure about you, but I use my fitness tracker a lot. However, have you ever wondered how far an Emperor Penguin travels? Well, a team of researchers from New Zealand and the US have been kitting out Emperor Penguins at the Cape Crozier colony (Antarctica) with trackers!
This has shown that Emperor Penguins can travel significant distances to feed their chicks. For example, one has been recorded travelling over 1000km and diving to depths of 486m! The research is being used to help inform long-term conservation efforts. Click here for more information.
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