CONTRIBUTORSElite Agent

Caroline Bolderston: Avoiding mixed messages

Getting your message across in a clear, succinct and polite fashion can be difficult at the best of times. Caroline Bolderston examines which technological channels are best for what type of communication, so you don’t end up delivering mixed messages.

When it comes to communication, technology has changed the landscape significantly.

With so many avenues now available for communication, which channel is the best option for which situation? 

Through my observations with my coaching clients, it has become clear that choosing the wrong communication channel can make or break a situation, outcome or relationship.

Things can easily go wrong, go off track or hit a brick wall because of the communication method chosen.

Given that communication is made up of 38 per cent tone and pace, 55 per cent body language and seven per cent the words that we choose, is it any wonder that some technology we rely upon can miss the mark? 

I have long loved this George Bernard Shaw quote: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively as you chase your goals and fulfil your purpose, whether it is with your family, your co-workers, or with your clients. 

With so many tech options to choose from, let me break down the Top 5 most effective communication channels and when to use each one. 

Email

I was taught many years ago that email is best used as a channel to document information, rather than as a means of conveying a message, to influence or to persuade.

It can be difficult to get the tone right in an email.

When it comes to decision-making and negotiations, email is wonderful to provide reports, data, analytics and clarity on available options.

It is always advisable to set up a follow-up phone call after the email so all parties have a chance to discuss the information provided.

Better still, write the email, have the conversation first, and then hit send on the email as soon as the conversation has finished. 

SMS

I love SMS for many reasons.

Given what SMS stands for – Short Message Service – it is best used as a prompter, to check-in on an agreed action item, or to make it easy for a client to respond.

A tip for SMS is to always end the message with a question so that the other party feels compelled to respond; to make answering even easier, try offering a Y/N response option just like restaurants do – it really works.

For example, a bulk SMS to check if buyers are still active and would like your assistance buying property.

In offering a “simply reply Y/N”option, you create an efficient and easy filter for all parties. 

WhatsApp 

This is a free, multi-platform app that allows you to send texts, make video and voice calls, and more, via a Wi-Fi connection.

It can be used very well for group updates and short, sharp information pieces, both written and verbal.

Try setting up a WhatsApp group for each of your new listings with your vendors.

If you work in an agent team, this is brilliant for quick updates and to ensure everyone is across all progress on the campaign. 

Telephone 

Voice-to-voice communication is most important when you need to understand a situation, and another person’s view, beliefs or perspective.

When you are problem solving, or need to influence decision making, the cues that you can pick up from tone of voice are critical.

Whether in a direct conversation or even a recorded voice message, you can pick up on verbal signals and signs.

This helps you understand the direction you should steer the client in and, most importantly, when you should be asking deeper questions.   

Face-to-Face

Sometimes there’s just no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.

When it comes to price adjustments, final negotiations or shifts in strategy, face-to-face is always going to be best.

It doesn’t matter if your client is local, interstate or overseas, with FaceTime, ZOOM and Google Meet, there is no reason for you not to get face-to-face.

Never underestimate the trust and rapport that is gained and strengthened from the human connection that face-to-face provides. 

It helps to break down any final barriers or hurdles as you can observe body language, changes in physiology (breathing heavier, skin flushes, facial gestures) and even the silent signals couples give to each other.

These physical cues speak loudly and can often provide insights and the gateway to moving forward.

If you’re in doubt about which channel to choose, initially follow the lead from your client and respond via the method they have chosen to initiate the communication.

From that point, when you know that influence and emotion will be required to get a desired outcome, steer the client gently towards the more effective communication channel so that you can confidently take control and progress towards your goals and objectives. 

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