Speaking the same language

 As a business owner, you’re responsible for your business first and foremost. For example, I’m a bookkeeper. I know about bookkeeping. Maybe your business is running a grocery store, so you know all about grocery retail. Or maybe it’s a dealership, and you know all about selling cars.

Whatever your business is, you know it inside and out. But chances are there are aspects of running your business that you don’t know as well. Maybe you’re not great with writing or marketing, or maybe you’re not comfortable keeping your own accounts.

Those areas can trip you up when you’re trying to sort out problems. I had an incident recently where we had to solve a problem with a bill. Three simple steps helped us reduce communication errors and resolve the bill with a minimum of time and fuss.

Ask what they need first

Too often, when we’re trying to resolve a problem, we provide way too much information. If you’re dealing with a network error, you don’t have to tell the IT person about the crumbs you got in your keyboard. If you’re dealing with an accounting error, you don’t have to explain the organizational chart of your company. All you have to do is explain the situation that you’re asking them to help with.

Once you’ve laid out the situation, ask them what they need to get it resolved. Don’t just dump all the information you have, or you’re wasting both your time and theirs.

Avoid jargon

Jargon and acronyms can lead to confusion if you’re talking to someone who’s not in the same industry. A contractor will immediately know what EIFS is, but if they’re talking to someone in the billing department at the electric company, no one will have a clue. An accountant or bookkeeper will know what you mean when you talk about FA and CA, but if they’re talking to someone who works in marketing, they won’t have a clue.

Make sure you’re not using jargon when explaining a problem to someone in a different industry or discipline, and ask for definitions if other people use jargon when explaining something to you.

Find a translator

Often this is actually the easiest and most effective way to resolve things.

You’re responsible for your business-what it does, how it works. But you probably employ people who do aspects of it for you and understand those aspects better than you do yourself. If you’re trying to sort out a bill, have your bookkeeper help-they’ll know what the customer service person is asking for. The same goes for any other area of your company. You have people with specialized expertise-use them!

If you do these three steps-ask what they need first, avoid jargon, and find a translator-you’ll find that communication issues start to magically clear up. You’ll have fewer headaches and be able to devote more time to running your business. Take advantage of these steps to have clearer and more effective cross-industry communication.

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