Big Ideas for Small Businesses…‘Tis the season to communicate

by Teri A. Coutu

You are BUSY! I know, I get it. Right now, as we head into the holiday season and our lives get busier than ever, it’s important that we make an extra effort to communicate effectively so we can help minimize stress on ourselves and the people around us.

3 Simple Email Rules

  • Got It! If you’re like me, you probably get way too many emails every day, and don’t always have time to reply right when they come in. In the past, I often waited for the “right time” to respond, which left the sender wondering if I received their email, or if I forgot to answer, or if I simply didn’t care. Since I don’t want clients and colleagues to feel forgotten, I have started sending “Got it!” replies when emails come in that require more time than I have at the moment. A quick “Got it! I am in meetings today but will get back to you by noon tomorrow” goes a really long way in building communication and relationships. 
  • Brief Bullets. Different personalities communicate differently. Some like to provide a plethora of details, while others keep it brief and to the point. Email is definitely NOT the place to get long-winded.  Using bullet points to share specific details helps put the info into bite-size nuggets, making it a LOT easier for the reader to digest the important facts being shared. 
  • More than 3? Call Me. While email is convenient, there’s a point where it can become a tedious string of back-and-forths that take up too much time and dilute the message. Generally, if you can’t explain or resolve an issue in less than three emails, scheduling a phone call is recommended. Just make sure the call doesn’t expand into other areas. Stay focused on the topic at hand and address it efficiently.

2 Gentle Reminders

  • Saying “No” is OK. During this busy season it’s common to over-extend yourself as you try to juggle your regular workload, business festivities, and personal holiday activities. Instead of burning yourself out, practice communicating what you need. It may be that you need to say “no” to some invites, special projects, or even family expectations. Saying no can be very empowering and can help create balance in your work and home life. You may feel a little guilty at first, but in the long-run, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Don’t forget your manners. Good communication is open, encouraging, and respectful. No matter what the situation or who you are communicating with, good manners create good relationships. So, make an effort to say “please” and “thank you.”  (You can’t say these enough!) And, take it a step further and open up the dialogue by asking people for their ideas, opinions, and input. Everyone has something to contribute and people feel respected when asked to share their thoughts.

This is the season when stress runs high and communication breaks down, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Work on building effective communication habits throughout the year and if all else fails, take a break and breathe in some of that clean mountain air – it will help get you back on track!

Teri A. Coutu is Business and Marketing Consultant, Teric Enterprise Solutions, Inc.

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