Are you using words that actually undermine what you’re trying to say? Are you effectively communicating your expectations? Effective communication is the foundation of good business and management. It’s time to take a trip back to high school english to examine if your word choice is holding you back!
It’s incredibly difficult and arbitrary to asses your language usage from memory (What kind of language did you use in your last phone call? Exactly.). Yet, assessing your language usage will provide key insights into your management style and how effective your communication is.
Let’s be practical: instead of hiring a court reporter to follow you around and transcribe your every interaction, install a phone call recorder and reread your emails to analyze your language usage and word choice.
Words matter! Impactful and meaningful word choice, paired with an organized collection of overall communication between yourself and your client are the key factors to our app’s success in getting invoices paid, especially those that have fallen well past due. All communication (email templates, call scripts, etc) used by the F|G Receivables Manager ™ have been carefully selected to have the maximum impact on the recipient. (Check out our free samples here)
Once you have the data, it’s time for insights!
Are you decisive and assertive?
“Assertive” and “decisive” simply mean having confidence and obvious authority. The easiest way to immediately start communicating in a more assertive fashion is to use the word “I”. Do not diminish or contradict the power of the word “I” by modifying it with unnecessary, extra words. Too often managers try to soften their orders by saying “I think” or “Perhaps…”- but this actually detracts from your authority and reduces the likelihood of the action being taken. Concise communication overall conveys decisiveness, confidence, and authority. Concise communication is effective communication.
Another simple and easy way to immediately begin conveying all the above is to start saying “NO” more often, instead of offering your position as an “or” option.
Bad: “I think it would be better if you came in at 9:00am”
Good: “I want you to come in at 9:00am”
Bad: “That’s one option, or you could pay half the invoice now, and pay the other half next quarter”
Good: “No. I would like you to pay half invoice now, and pay the other half next quarter”.
Are you direct?
Remember your grammar school lessons on “the passive voice”? I didn’t think so. The passive voice means the action in your sentence isn’t owned or attributed to either yourself or the person you’re talking to. WHO did WHAT- exactly?
Using the active voice (always attributing the verb to a noun) will allow you to be clear and direct in your communication. Those that you are talking to will understand exactly what actions they need to be taking, and what actions you will be responsible for. When using the passive voice, you don’t necessarily specify who is (or should be) performing the action, which is why statements in the passive voice may falter in generating action. As a general rule of thumb, the active voice is almost always better than the passive voice. Effective communication is action oriented and directed at a specific person and purpose.
Bad, Passive: The copier needs to be fixed.
Good, Active & Direct: Sally, please fix the copier.
Do you mean it?
Be careful not to overstate or overemphasize when speaking. Doing so makes your position or request seem less earnest and important. Dramatic expressions and language styles have risen in popularity recently, to absolutely no benefit of the speakers. Unrealistic timeframes or demands are recognized by recipients as being unattainable, and not only will your intended target not be “extra” motivated, they will likely less motivated that if you had said nothing at all! You’ll soon find that by being detailed and specific about what you want (using time frames and standard business terminology) that you’ll get dramatically more successful results. Effective communication is realistic and straightforward.
Outlandish language could also anger your customers! If you use a popular and commonly used overstatement like “instantly”, “no questions asked”, or “free”- but don’t mean it, the result will be an annoyed and most likely lost customer! Simply state the plain old reality, your customers will enjoy the break from the flowery, dramatic language of advertisements.
Bad: I need you to devote your every waking minute to this project!
Good: This project is now your number one priority. It’s very important you finish it by next Friday.
It’s good business practice to put as much thought into your interpersonal communication as you do to your marketing and advertising. You should always prepare for business calls, and edit any emails before sending. Spending just 5 extra minutes ensuring your communication is assertive, direct, and meaningful will yield significant results for your business.
Our own software quickly became very successful largely due to using meaningful, powerful and impactful language to get actionable results on past due invoices.
Not sure where to get started? Check out our selection of free email templates and call scripts to help you start communicating more effectively with your clients NOW. Don’t forget, our F|G Receivables Manager™ can also help manage your client relationships by suggesting emails and call scripts and by tracking all communication for each and every client.