Effective communication and building positive relationships stems from knowing when to listen, speak and act. However, to really understand how to interact well, you need to dig a little deeper. Think about the last time you had an in-person conversation with a stakeholder? When they were speaking, what did you do? Did you take notes or present any verbal cues such as nodding or using hand gestures? Maybe you involved yourself in the conversation and asked questions. These are all typical effective ways of showing you are listening, but the true value of building relationships with stakeholders stems further than just being present in the conversation. The most important part is what you do after the conversation is over.
The Reflection Stage
“The catalyst for effective communication is reflection,” says Melanie, in her blog, The secret to effective communication. “The most valuable moment we have is when we are neither speaking nor listening. It is the moment when we balance consideration of another person’s viewpoint with that of our own. It is when we consider what has been said in the context of where, when, why and how it has been said.”
At the core, effective communication is all about taking the time to understand the conversation. What is the true value of communicating with this person or group? Did any underlying issues or concerns come up in the conversation? Were complications resolved and how do you plan on following-up on the conversation?
Whether it’s two-minutes or ten, taking the time to reflect and report on the communication can identify any holes or ideas which need further clarification. Documenting your reflections in a safe place – like a data management system, also helps you keep all your information safe and secure. This way, if you need to clarify a past conversation, you can go back to the meeting notes. Reflection is a key to building positive relationships.
Set Real Expectations
We all have deadlines, and making time for reflection can be a big ask for many of us – but don’t let this stop you from putting aside some time. If we set up expectations to form positive relationships with stakeholders, we need to live up to them. Actions speak louder than words. Set yourself goals. It might be to spend a few minutes every day to reflect on your conversations. Jot-down the important information in your data-management system. This will help to create valuable connections and leads to increase loyalty and possibly a sale.
How to reflect and build positive relationships
Here are the types of questions you may choose to reflect and report on after any stakeholder conversations.
- What was the goal or expectation of the conversation?
- Do you understand what your stakeholder to gain from the conversation?
- How did the stakeholder respond through-out the conversation? Did they ask a lot of questions? Did they feel at ease or did they seem distracted or unsure?
- Will there be any follow-up actions?
- Did you achieve the objective/s of the conversation?
What to do with the data
Reflecting on information and securing it in a data-management system ensures you stay consistent in your messaging. Next time you have a conversation with the same stakeholder, you’ll be able to read the notes and see any actionable tasks that need completing. Similarly, you can use data-management to clarify potential misinformation and create stakeholder reports.
Take the time to reflect
Effective reflecting on conversations with stakeholders can create more positive and strong relationships. To successfully reflect, think about your goals, expectations and how much time you need to achieve them. Use your data management system to monitor, track and keep a record of your conversations.
If you’re interested in learning more about building positive relationships with stakeholders, effective reflection and data management, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.
If you enjoyed this post then I think you will also enjoy our article, Managing Stakeholders in High-Stress Situations with Advanced Empathetic Communication