If I have learned one thing in the communications industry, it is that … we don’t communicate very well.
Now add the fact that I have spent most of my career in the Spanish language media… imagine that, all the Latino cultures, the localisms, the slang… “ay Dios mio”… to make matters worse, the last 6 years the current political temperament where it customary to communicate in a hostile and increasingly inimical tone, and we have the perfect storm for a… “Communication Breakdown” (great Led Zeppelin tune by the way).
But back to earth, and specifically here in the Latino community of North Philly, where our communications are basic, mostly through texts and email.
Here are some suggestions that might help, regardless of language, when we are trying to communicate in a business environment, like working with vendors, co-workers, or plain old sales communications.
But first, while I never like to discuss negative issues, I’d like to talk about a phrase that I hear being used these days… that is the phrase “Does that make sense” ☹… here is why I think it’s negative…It undermines confidence. By asking, «Does that make sense?» you inadvertently imply that your explanation or pitch might be confusing or unclear.
This can create unnecessary pressure and responsibility on the listener and make the conversation very uncomfortable. It suggests that you’re unsure about the value or clarity of what you’re offering, which can weaken the listener’s trust in your product, service, or message. Anyway, here are some alternative approaches.
Instead of using «Does that make sense?», consider using phrases that encourage engagement and further discussion. For example, you can say, «I’d love to hear your thoughts on this,» or «How does this align with your needs?» 😊These phrases encourage dialogue, demonstrate confidence, and show a genuine interest in understanding the listener’s perspective.
So back to positive communication technics, especially in electronic platforms or texts. The first suggestion that I have is that to be a good communicator, you must be a good listener. By this, I mean good communications require active and engaging listening, a non-judgmental attitude, and patience.
You will find that when answering a message if you take a step back and think about these four factors, your messages will be clearer and make more sense to the listener.
The next suggestion I have is to have empathy – putting ourselves in the speaker’s shoes and understanding their point of view. So many times, we reply to an email or a text message with our view of what they are trying to say. Consider the option of replying to a message with a simple, “I understand” or “I see your point” This can save a lot of back-and-forth unnecessary communications. You will have plenty of time to address “your point of view” if it’s a conversation that you value.
The last piece of advice I have, for now anyway, is to never use strong or explosive words or phrases in messages. Such as you never do the right thing, you didn’t do what I asked you, you don’t know what I mean ☹…these explosive phrases and words create an immediate barrier to good communication flow. Consider using these messages instead… “Let’s discuss this further” … “How about this idea”…“I think we can improve this”… or “Great idea we can add this to your suggestion”.
This is a great subject to pursue in future columns. For now, it’s good to remember that effective engaging, non-judgmental, and empathetic communications are essential for maintaining healthy relationships and resolving potential conflicts.
Uriel Rendón is the General Manager of Impacto Media and SVP of Marketing and Communications at Esperanza. For more than 30 years he has contributed as a small business consultant, entrepreneur, businessman, and columnist. You can write to him directly at Uriel.email@example.com.