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Lower Comms Costs Don’t Have To Mean Worse Communication

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article |Comms Costs|Lower Comms Costs Don't Have To Mean Worse CommunicationThe old saying goes that time is money and, in business, you need to make sure that you’re managing that well. As such, effective and efficient communication are vital. However, the tech that it takes to manage that communication can start to get costly. Here, we’re going to look at how you can manage those costs before they loom too large, without cutting back on your ability to communicate both internally and externally.

Collaboration is happening in the Cloud

One of the most crucial parts of internal communication is your ability to share the resources that your colleagues might need. Any sticking or slowness when it comes to either sending or receiving those resources can reduce profitability which, in turn, reduces profitability. As such, you should look into options like using Cloud storage instead of having to rely on personal storage on local drives as often. First of all, small businesses can benefit from that Cloud storage at a very low cost, sometimes even for free depending on your needs. It can also allow you to reduce your reliance on costly hardware such as hard drives. What’s more, when you store files on the Cloud, others are able to access it instantaneously, so long as you give them permission and the link.

Taking your phones digital

It should be no surprise that the online world is helping a lot of companies manage both their internal and external communication much more effectively. There is plenty of free and low-cost software that allows you to communicate with people in a variety of ways. However, you might not immediately think of going digital when it comes to how you make phone calls. However, unified phone systems that make use of VoIP solutions like Agencybloc integrations can help you manage a whole network of phones using the internet. This way, you might be able to save on the costs of setting up traditional phone lines throughout the business and you might not even need physical phones, just the headsets that your team uses to manage their calls.

Make your meetings remote

We’ve all likely gotten very much used to doing things remotely and now that restrictions are easing, the temptation is to go back to meeting in person. Sometimes, that can work just fine but, in other cases, the costs of traveling and eating out can add up to a lot, especially if you have to go far. To that end, options like Zoom video conference software can be a lot less costly. You still get that all-important face-to-face time which can be crucial for selling a pitch, but you don’t have to take a huge chunk out of your day to maintain those same standards of communication.

Communication truly is vital, but like anything, it can start to become unmanageable if you let the costs run away from you. Hopefully, the tips above can help you better manage both aspects of the communication question without too much trouble.

Great Skills To Learn When You’re Working

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Working Skills|Great Skills To Learn When You’re WorkingEven if you’ve graduated from school or college and are now working in a job, it isn’t a good idea to believe that you no longer have to worry about learning new things. The reality is that lifelong learning is beneficial to our well-being. Furthermore, it’s entertaining and beneficial to our mental health and makes it easier to advance in our jobs.

It’s possible to learn hundreds, possibly thousands, of skills, but not all of them will be as useful to you. As a working professional, it’s important that you obtain the ideal skills that will help you learn more about yourself and provide you with the best opportunity for a successful career. Read on to find out more.

Learn A New Language

If English is your first language, you may believe that learning another is a waste of time. After all, most people from other countries understand English, so why bother? The truth is that, apart from being a talent that companies value, learning a new language can help keep your brain more nimble. It’s not a simple chore, and the older we grow, the more difficult it gets. If you can set out to learn a whole new language, you’ll be keeping your brain in excellent shape, which should assist in preventing illnesses like dementia. And remember, it’s actually very impolite to assume someone will speak English; even if it seems as though everyone can, that’s not the attitude to have (and it’s not the reality either).

Furthermore, if you work in business, learning a new language may well be helpful. Employers often want people who can stand out, and possessing a second language would undoubtedly help you do so.

Take A Business Class

Learning more about business is always beneficial, whether you’re an employee, an employer, or a sole trader. In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, it can be challenging to keep up with new ideas and trends. A business class will give you a better understanding of what’s going on in the world, and you’ll be able to improve your own talents at the same time.

You can take as many courses as you want at any level. A university MBA, for example, or attending a conference where someone you like gives a session are two options. Plus, there are plenty in between, including how to learn Forex trading and other valuable skills for life as well as business. Work out what’s best for you and take charge of your life by doing it.

Work On Communication Skills

If there’s one thing employers look for, it’s solid verbal and written communication skills. You’ll need to speak to a wide range of individuals in your daily working life: from customers/clients to suppliers, colleagues, and supervisors. It’s a talent that not everyone possesses, but there are various techniques to learn to become a better communicator, which will have a profound impact on your personal and professional life.

A public speaking coach might help you achieve greater self-assurance in this regard. You don’t have to become a public speaker – though it may be a profitable career move if you do – but possessing the necessary abilities and using them in your profession and everyday life will benefit you greatly.

5 Modes Of Communication Essential For Business

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article |Modes of Communication|5 Modes Of Communication Essential For BusinessAlmost all businesses are essentially communicative organizations. Businesses need to communicate internally, with consultants, and with consumers. Here are five modes of communication that are absolutely essential for modern businesses.

Telephone

The humble telephone, probably invented by Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell in 1875, still has some very important roles to play in business in 2022. Telephones are the most commonly used means of direct audio communication between consumers and businesses. They are also the most convenient way to instantly confirm information within an organization. One problem associated with telephones is the amount of labor it takes to consistently field calls. Third-party telephone answering services typically offer companies the option of outsourcing their inbound calls.

Social Media

In 2020, an estimated 3.6 billion people were using social media around the world. This number is expected to grow to 4.41 billion people by 2025. If you take children out of the equation, that means that the majority of the people on the earth will use social media very soon. This makes social media an absolutely essential communicative avenue for all public-facing businesses.

Social media is key for marketing, data collection, and recruitment. Companies relying upon big datasets often harvest communicative information from social media in order to make accurate forecasts. Social media allows companies to seek out candidates for roles using extremely specific parameters. It’s also a great way to reach consumers you know are already invested in your products or services.

Email

The history of email can be traced all the way back to 1965 when academics at MIT developed a method of sending messages via the institute’s computer terminals. Today, email is one of the most important forms of written communication. Email is usually the first method used to communicate between departments, set up meetings, or field consumer inquiries. Emails can also, crucially, be used for sending files from one computer to another. Although cloud computing is making this less of an important feature, it still remains useful.

Video Conferencing

Remote and hybrid working solutions are now considered to be part of the ‘new normal.’ The coronavirus pandemic prompted more workplaces than ever before to permit home working. Video conferencing technology is one of the most important innovations that has allowed businesses to operate successfully under remote-working conditions. Video conferencing tools like Skype and Zoom existed long before the pandemic, but the increased amount of need for such tools during the global catastrophe raised them to the status of ‘must have’ services in almost every field of business. The chances are high that your next meeting will be on Zoom.

Project Management Software

Project management software is now considered to be a crucial communicative tool for businesses chasing complex strategic aims. Instead of being a traditional mode of communication, project management software typically combines many different communicative channels and allows them to be viewed and interacted with on a central dashboard. Video recordings, instant messages, and memos can all be accessed easily using the best project management software. This makes the organization of a team far less complex.

Top 3 Tips To Be A Better Manager

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Tips to be a Better Manager|Top 3 Tips To Be A Better ManagerAs a manager, you have a lot of responsibilities. You’re in charge of the day-to-day operations and often oversee the employees. It can all be very overwhelming. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide for managing your team and becoming a better boss. We’ll cover what makes an effective leader, how to stay organized, and how to keep your employees happy and productive. From fostering workplace culture to improving communication skills, here are some top tips for being a better manager.

What Makes a Great Leader

In order to be a great leader, you have to know the importance of your role and continuously strive for improvement. Leadership means staying calm when everyone is overwhelmed and acting swiftly in times of crisis. It means setting an example for your employees and empathizing with them on a personal level. If you want to become a better manager, you must find out what makes an effective leader and take steps towards becoming one yourself.

How to Be Organized as a Manager

One of the most important things for a manager is to be organized. As a leader, you need to set goals and stay on top of tasks each day. To do this effectively, it’s best to have an organizational system that works for you. Some common ones are Kanban boards, time blocking, or project management software like Basecamp.

Managers know agendas and aforementioned organizational tools are a platform to success. Therefore, choose whichever fits your needs and be consistent.

How to Keep Employees Happy and Productive

One of the most important things you can do for your workers is foster a sense of workplace culture.

Create a company culture that encourages employees to feel like they belong and are valued. This way, they’ll be more likely to stay and more invested in their work.

Make your office an enjoyable place to work with a motivating attitude. Encourage your team to relax after a hard day’s work. Have a space where employees can work remotely when they need to so they don’t feel tethered to their desks all day. Promote trust by being accessible and showing that you care about your employees’ success. Try hosting monthly check-ins with each employee, and make sure you take time to listen before giving advice or solving problems for them.

Encourage feedback from employees through tools like open office hours, surveys, and focus groups. They’ll feel heard and will be more willing to share ideas openly in the future–helping you become a better manager for it!

Important Steps

Becoming a better manager doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and plenty of hard work to make progress. But it can be done. You’ll want to make sure you know what you’re good at and what your employees are good at, too. Any time you want to bring about changes at work, you will have to be organized and have a detailed plan. Additionally, be mindful of the environment in which your employees work and keep it stress-free. finally, don’t be like pop up displays; avoid micromanaging your team.

Be Like Water: 3 Martial Arts Lessons for Negotiation

StrategyDrive Practices for Professionals Article |Negotiation|Be Like Water: 3 Martial Arts Lessons for NegotiationIn the struggle between the stone and water, in time, the water wins.

– Japanese Proverb

You may wonder what martial arts and negotiation have in common. As a lifetime practicing martial artist, I constantly use lessons from various martial arts to help me in my professional life. One of the most common themes running through all martial arts is the silencing of the “self.” Martial artists meditate to quiet themselves and become more attuned to the processes of the self and the world around them.

Negotiators must also be mindful, especially if they wish to be successful. When you’re doing all the talking and pushing, you’re the rock or the stone. Whereas when you’re water, you take whatever shape you need to become. This puts you automatically in control, even if that requires patience and time. You can be prepared for anything without being blocked by your thoughts and senses.

If you’re tense or distracted by the planning and anticipation of your next move toward your opponent, you’re much more likely to be hit. Similarly, if your thoughts and senses block you in negotiation, you’re more likely to give away your position, strategy and point of weakness. But if you come prepared to listen with complete openness, you begin to notice things. You find openings in arguments, unravel the essential backstories behind the arguments and realize where the actual questions lie.

Negotiation is investigative; it’s an art for the curious. Those who approach it with an open and serene mind are less likely to expose their weak points for attack. This is what it means to become the water and not the stone.

Here are some martial arts techniques to apply to negotiations:

1. Relax without showing strength or weakness

Great competitors will not show their strength because it also may display a weakness. Revealing your strength can expose your vulnerability. To be like water, relax.

I recall an instance where I did exactly this. I was attending a play in New York City’s Times Square with my business partner at the time, accompanied by his girlfriend and my wife. After the fantastic show, the audience poured through the exit. I was about 10 feet away from my wife and business partner’s girlfriend when I observed a man studying them. He seemed to be looking at their purses. I could sense he was about to make a move, so I immediately closed the gap and stood between him and the women.

I looked him in the eye and smiled and put out my hand to shake his hand, and I said, “Hey, how are you doing?” He put out his hand and shook mine, and I just said, “There’s nothing for you here.” He shook my hand for a little longer than you’d expect and then smiled and walked away.

This is a perfect example of the power of a be-like-water strategy. I wasn’t threatening. I wasn’t afraid. I could have approached the matter differently and been combative and accusatory, but that would have caused far more trouble than it was worth. I knew in that instance to be like the water — calm, collected. I listened and observed my surroundings and obstacles, ultimately knowing that through the art of listening and silencing myself that I could leave the situation unscathed yet wiser.

2. Find openings

In martial arts, the search for that opening in your opponent is a patient one that eventually yields results.

Negotiation is a human process and thus rich in human interaction, showing your human side, establishing that you care and demonstrating empathy make the people you interact with more comfortable. How can you do this? By listening and asking questions.

Imagine that you enter your negotiation with questions. You come in like water. You’re prepared but don’t presume your outcome by making demands of what you want. You ask good questions.

What are good questions? Those that, like water, find an opening.

Finding openings can be the most challenging part of a negotiation, and asking and listening offer the best opening. If you’re specific about precisely what you want at the outset, you may leave something important on the table. If you ask for too much, the negotiation may end quickly.

Openings require open-ended questions and a bit of small talk. People are more receptive to open-ended questions. Asking open-ended questions creates an atmosphere in which your counterparty thinks and believes that the ideas presented are his or her own.

When you open by listening, you’re letting the other party in the negotiation lead. But you need to let them lead in a way that doesn’t appear as though you’re trying to corner them. This means asking open-ended questions, not closed-ended ones. Think of closed-ended questions as those that can be answered with yes or no, while open-ended questions welcome narrative.

Patiently search for that opening in your opponent. Consider borrowing from classic sales techniques and using questions to uncover shared interests. Respond to the opponent’s answers with follow-up questions to establish trust.

An opening I’ve used is: “So, why are we here?”

I’ve diffused tension with a simple, “How can I help?”

Openings to negotiations should be simple, non-threatening, inviting and used to establish trust.

3. Wait for the right moment

Don’t come into a negotiation with your sword drawn. Come in empty-handed. Come in formless and shapeless, like water. Come in prepared to ask evoking questions that will lead to discovering information that you can use to your advantage. But first you must get them talking.

Intently concentrate on listening so that you’ll remember everything you hear. Uncover all of the essential backstory to find out the other party’s true desires and dissatisfactions and what they most want. Then, and only then, connect your services, your products and your perspective with the other person’s needs and desires.

Openings are conceptual gaps where you can test, interject and match their needs and desires with yours. You must be so well prepared and clear on your negotiating position that introducing these as needs and opportunities will be effortless. It will be natural. You’ll be leading, but the other party will believe that the lead is theirs. When you behave and act this way, the other party will feel like they’re teaching you.

Come in ready to listen with complete openness until the opportunity to present your position arises. Most of all, be patient and relaxed. Be like water.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Cash NickersonCash Nickerson is chairman of AKKA North America’s Business Unit. He was President, CFO, General Counsel, and the second largest shareholder of PDS Tech prior to its purchase by AKKA Technologies. Previous roles include attorney and marketing executive for Union Pacific Railroad, associate and then partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago, and chairman and CEO of an internet company. He teaches Negotiation as a Professor of Practice at Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law. Nickerson has authored several books, with his latest book, Negotiation as a Martial Art: Techniques to Master the Art of Human Exchange (Made for Success, July 2, 2021), named “Best New Release in Business Negotiations” by the Wall Street Journal. Learn more at cashnickerson.com.