Communication is one of the key success factors in alliances and partnerships. Clear communication helps to build trust and understanding between partners. As such, we might even regard communication as the key factor in any relationship; political, personal, professional or friendly. Whatever the relation type is, communication is the cornerstone. 

Why Are We Poor At Communication?

If communication is the relationship cornerstone, then why are we so lousy at it? We often tend to mix up communication with tools and technology and forget about the basics! Remember that communication game we played as kids? While sitting together in a circle, an adult would whisper a phrase in the ear of the first child, who then would whisper it in the ear of the second and so on. At the end of the circle, the message was almost guaranteed to be completely different from the original message! There was lots of fun involved for the children playing the game. The children were so eager to pass on the message and thus weren’t actively listening or verifying what they thought they heard versus what was actually said! This is still daily practice for many adults and often, it’s even the essence of daily communications.

We tend to take communication for granted by sending off an email, a text message, or any other type of message without verifying that the message is understood as it was meant to be. We assume we have communicated our message and that our partner has the same understanding as we do of what we have written. However, we are just transmitting instead of communicating. Communication is a two-way street and should not just be a matter of transmitting. It is as important to ask for confirmation and to make sure that what you want to be understood is indeed understood. Then when responding to the response, a conversation begins and true communication starts to happen.

Get To Know Your Partner

Communication tends to get better or easier when we start to know our partner better. We can only learn to know our partners better when we invest in our relationship. Make time for your business partners and get to know them. They may represent a company, but in the end they are human beings like yourself, with human interests. Communication in business is like communication with friends. You know what is important for your friends, do you also know what’s important for your business contact, personally? Knowing the person behind your business partner helps to improve communication and that can significantly improve the relationship. Business gets easier and you will build trust and credibility more easily

Two-way communication is easier on the phone or in an (online) meeting than via messaging tools. Try it next time you talk to your partner, ask questions and learn to get to know who the person is behind your business contact, you never know, it may change the world!