From the Winter 2022 Issue
Essential Skills for Successful Communication
Effective Communication for Managers
Essential skills for effective communication require email etiquette, understanding client preferences and adapting out of our comfort zone to accommodate communication requirements for our clients. Listening to the client and ensuring you empathize and understand their feelings is paramount. The problem is that we don’t listen to understand; we listen to reply. Knowing the clients ensures that you have accurate records, and programming the client information into whatever technology or phone logs you must, ensures you know who your client is when they call.
When something goes wrong, pick up the phone and own it. Accountability is everything and will earn respect and trust. Good communication bridges confusion and clarity, so communicate for clarity and resolve the confusion.
Phone calls require focus, listening skills, conciseness, clarity, note-taking, and follow-up with any parties that need to be part of the communication. It’s often said that you can hear a smile, not just see it. Try smiling when talking, even through tough phone calls or complaints, but practice caution to ensure it’s not misinterpreted as sarcasm.
Communication is always a work in progress, but practice makes perfect. Be cautious with humour, don’t shoot from the hip, especially when you don’t know the client. When in doubt, leave humour out. Do not use sarcasm or abbreviations. These leave an impression of uncertainty; you must know the right time and situation to use humour.
It’s truly an efficient way to save time; however, it can have flaws! Proofreading is always the last step before hitting that button because we can’t depend on technology to do this for us. Simple words such as “there, their, or they’re” can easily be misused. While responding promptly is appreciated, accuracy is more important.
Never Rush Communication
It takes time and practice to master essential skills for successful communication. When all the details are communicated and understood, you will receive better responses and quicker solutions to problems. Effective and successful communication allows for solid decision-making and more productivity. The day-to-day is busy enough; there isn’t enough time to go back and forth over topics. Effective communication allows for better control, a better professional image, and a more robust business relationship with board members, staff, unit owners, contractors, trades, and your internal team.
Effective verbal, written or visual communication will allow for better conflict management. It doesn’t hurt to brainstorm how to communicate differently with industry colleagues. If you are working on big projects, call on the other professional parties involved. If you need information about financial positions or engineering, call on your financial advisors, lenders and engineers to help you with the appropriate language to ensure this is explained well and in layperson’s terms for your audience. Don’t be afraid to ask them to support your notices. Most companies want to see the notices before sending them to your clients to ensure the message is correctly communicated. They are, after all, the professionals in those projects and tasks, and you must be part of the team. This reduces follow-up return communications and creates productivity. Ensure you understand the message before sending it to prevent communication barriers, and this will reduce misunderstandings and solve conflicts.
Ensure you are listening well. If you have in-person conversations, try to read the face of the person you are communicating with, listen to the tones being used, and only speak when required and do not interrupt or speak over them. Always remain calm, and turn discussions into conversations, not lectures. However, stay confident and be credible and trustworthy. If you are unsure, say so, and ensure the audience that you will investigate and follow up with a response. But most importantly, be true to your answers and acknowledge when you don’t know. We can be a wealth of knowledge, but we are not Google.
We start our lives with picture books and colours; sometimes, it is essential to take it back to this step and provide visual communication. Just think of site signage. It often has a picture because the last thing you want is someone having to read and understand a paragraph of information. You want to get the message across to anyone receiving it immediately. You’d be surprised how much of your audience will go directly to the visual portion of your communication rather than the paragraphs of written information. Studies show that the average human brain retains approximately only 10% of what is read but 30% of what is seen. Consider this when preparing your communications.
Courtney Cartmill, RCM, is the Vice President of Client Relations & Senior Condominium Manager with HighPoint Property Management Corp. She is a Registered Condominium Manager and carries her General License with the CMRAO. Courtney is currently an ACMO Board Member, a mentor for Condominium Managers and is actively involved in many aspects of the Condominium Industry.