Volume 4

Three Rules for Effective Communication

Email marketing is not about sending mountains of information to thousands of people. Effective email marketers recognise that an email newsletter is a tool to promote communication and build relationships.

The power of an effective conversation or communication strategy can mean the difference between a failed business venture or relationship and a successful one. I recently went through a process of analysing the many thousands of exchanges I have had over the past couple of years with people whether through email or verbal means. In distinguishing between the successful exchanges and failed ones, I considered the following factors:

  • Did I address the real issue?
  • Did I tackle the tough challenges?
  • Was learning provoked and did I strengthen my relationship with the other party?

    Communication based on this success criteria requires a great deal of skill; it does not come easily for most of us and takes considerable practice. There are three specific rules for effective communication:

    Rule 1. Create a Safe Environment

    The foundation of effective communication is a safe environment. A safe environment is one where the sender and receiver have a shared understanding of the purpose of the communication. Neither party is trying to force information into the pool of shared meaning and there is respect between both parties. Once either party starts to force ideas, disregard or criticise a viewpoint, or purposefully withhold information, respect will be lost along with the freeflow of meaning (dialogue). A safe environment will ensure a greater level of authenticity in the communication process.

    Rule 2. Be Authentic

    Have you ever been in a situation where you felt there was a hidden agenda or that you weren't being told the full story? How did you react? My guess is that you were not motivated to take action on the information you were provided, learning wasn't provoked and your relationship with the other party was not strengthened, in fact it may have worsened. Being authentic is about tackling the tough challenges and making the communication real, being honest and considering all possible realities that exist. Remember, no one person owns all the truth, everyone owns a piece of it. Authenticity will promote trust between parties, provoke learning, and be the motivator for future action.

    >Rule 3. Commit to Action

    A safe environment with authentic communication promotes action on behalf of one or all parties involved. Why? Because you will clearly see the value that may be gained through taking the action, and you will be confident in making a decision when you trust the source and information you are basing your decision on.

    If these three rules are adhered to with any communication exchange, you can feel confident that you will be building relationships, provoking learning and a catalyst for positive change based on shared purpose. After all, the communication is the relationship.

    Bringing it home

    Consider how you can relate the rules above to your own email newsletters.

    Are you making recipients feel safe, knowing that they are receiving specific information from you because they asked for it? Do they feel comfortable giving you information about themselves?

    Are you authentic? Do you deliver a clear, honest message, or do you try to sell your services through double meanings and vague promises?

    Do you tell your customers exactly what you will do? Do you make it clear what you are asking them to do? A call to action is vital in every communication.

    Your challenge this month is to use these rules to identify how you can improve your own email communication.

    For those of you interested in further reading, I recommend these books:

    Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time -- by Susan Scott

    Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High -- by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey