If you’re like most of the professionals we know, your small business reopening strategy has shifted with new regulations and restrictions over the past months of the pandemic. Ellen Marchman, who has more than 20 years of experience in the communications industry and founded a boutique PR firm, Get Ink PR, explained what this entails and how small businesses can leverage it during a #BizHackLive webinar.

TL;DR: How Conscious Communication Can Help Your Small Business Reopening

  • Tip 1: Adapt Conscious Communication Strategies – Conscious communication is talking and listening with intention.
  • Tip 2: Your Body Language Matters – Show you care, even when you’re screen to screen.
  • Tip 3: Deploy Active Listening – Skip the multitasking and start focusing on the person in front of you.

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What is Conscious Communication?

“We all need to be prepared for what’s to come, and we can’t lose the value of connection in re-entry,” Marchman said. “Conscious communication is talking and listening with intention. This starts with who you choose to be. You can shape the conversation’s results with what you say and how you say it.”

If you have to have a sensitive conversation with a client or customer, establish clarity and understand your objective before you talk. Marchman said to ask yourself three questions before the meeting:

  1. What is the purpose of your communication? 
  2. What do you need in this situation? 
  3. What do you want the other person to understand and respond to during the conversation?

One concrete motivator behind using conscious communication? Marchman said the organizations that are best at engaging their employees and clients achieve 4X earnings-per-share higher growth than their competitors.

7 Ways to Consciously Communicate During Small Business Reopening

Here are several tips to consciously communicate during a small business reopening:

  • Keep in continual communication with your clients and customers through friendly check-ins.
  • Pay attention to industry news so you can serve as a subject matter expert.
  • Craft internal and external communications specifically tailored to customers, employees, or the media.
  • Put on your therapist hat and serve as a sounding board for clients and employees.
  • Never use “but” after a sentence, as it sounds like you’re avoiding responsibility for what you’re about to say. Try using “Yes, and…” approach.
  • Avoid using personal phrases such as “You’re wrong” or “I’m right about this.” Instead, say, “Let’s look at the goals” or “The results show x, y, and z.”

A Case Study In Communication for Small Business Success

One executive who has successfully used conscious communication tactics to ensure small business success was Stacey Glassman Mizener, vice president of development at the National Young Arts Foundation. 

Mizener exceeded her fundraising goal six months before her deadline by using effective communication, and she suggested the following best practices for small business owners to utilize:

  • Communicate from your higher self for the best results. Keep in mind the needs of the people you’re communicating with, not just your own.
  • Develop authentic relationships. One way to do this is through writing individual emails rather than sending email blasts to multiple contacts.
  • Be clear with what you want and have confidence in your ask.
  • Don’t over-explain. Answer questions and leave room for pauses so the conversation can flow naturally.

These tips will help foster team communication, strengthen your customer relationships, and meet the needs of your colleagues and employees.

Your Body Language Matters

Nonverbal communication, such as your body language and voice inflection, is as important to your message as the words you choose. On average, 80% of communication is body language comprising gestures, facial expressions, posture, head movement, and eye contact.

However, as more people work from home and telecommute, nonverbal communication can be harder to emote. With remote work comes a parade of phone calls, FaceTimes, Google Meets, Zooms, and other virtual meeting technology platforms. 

There are a few ways you can improve your body language during a videoconference. After all, using positive body language lets others know you are interested in the conversation and value their time.

First, turn on your camera and be aware of your surroundings, as well as your audio and internet connection. Be present and keep your energy positive and upbeat. Smile when you’re talking, which changes your voice inflection. 

Deploy Active Listening

Listening tends to be the part of conversations we find most challenging. But there are two key rules for active listening: Don’t multitask, and don’t interrupt others when they’re speaking.

“Listening is one of the most critical components of effective communication,” Marchman said. “In any conversation, in-person or virtual, you need to demonstrate genuine listening. Otherwise, your conversation partner will stop paying attention to you as well, and the conversation will be a waste of time.”

The reason multitasking is a no-no is that the more tasks you’re trying to do at one time, the more you’re likely to make a mistake or miss a step. Multitasking causes anxiety because your mind can’t concentrate fully on any one activity. 

Marchman also said multitasking inhibits your creativity, which leaves you unable to develop innovative ideas and concepts because you’re in execute mode rather than create mode.

For a personal blueprint to conscious communication, Marchman is offering 30-minute complimentary consultations on verbal communication, written communication, or public speaking to BizHack members. Email her at info@ellenmarchman.com

Want more tips? On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE #Bizhacklive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.