Communication is perhaps the most essential element towards building a successful partnership or alliance. George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” He has a point. Communication is one of the key success factors in partnerships and alliances. Maybe it’s even the cornerstone of any relationship, whether it’s political, personal, friendly or professional.
Whatever the relationship type is, communication is the bedrock. Think about that for a moment.
Now, if communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, 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 kid, who would then whisper it in the ear of the second kid, and so on. At the end of the circle, the message is guaranteed to be completely garbled and different from the original message. It’s lots of fun for children, but it nonetheless is a very true daily practice for many adults. More often than not, it’s even the essence of our daily communications.
We take communication for granted. We send off an email, a text message, a tweet, a Facebook private message, a WhatsApp message, or another electronically sent missive instead of sending something personal. Worse even, we handle our mail when we are supposed to pay attention to a conference call or meeting, so we skip one communication for another. And we still think we have communicated our message, completely assuming that our partner has taken the same understanding of what we have written. In the words of Mr. Shaw, we have the illusion that communication has truly taken place.
However, do we ever check if our message has been understood? Communication is two-way. It’s not just a matter of transmitting. It’s just as important to ask for confirmation and to make sure that the message you want to be understood is indeed understood. Once you’ve received that confirmation of understanding, you then respond to the response and true communication happens.
Communication tends to get better and easier when we begin to know our business partner better. We can only learn to know our partners better when we invest in the relationship, and communicating properly is investing in the 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 you, with human interests. Knowing the human behind your partner will improve communication, and with that you can improve the relationship a lot. Business gets done more easily, and you will build trust and credibility.
Communication in business is like communication with friends. So, do you know what is important for your friends personally? Do you know what drives your business contact? Do you ever give a compliment to a friend? Do you ever give a compliment to your business partner or colleague?
Try it: ask questions, give compliments, learn to know the person behind your business contacts and it may change the world!
Clear communication between you and your partner opens a
smoother and easier path towards relationship building and
This article is part of a series of articles extending upon the 25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances article. These 25 tips have been rewritten and published in the eBook “25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances“. See this page to purchase your own copy of the ebook in Kindle, PDF and ePub format.