Communication. Who knew a word with one definition could have so many ways to come to life? Everything from the type (dialogue, monologue), medium (face-to-face, phone, email), and delivery (body language, tone, punctuation) can make the difference between successful or failed communication.
As an Account Manager, I could label this one word as the foundation of my day-to-day activities. Each day, I must consider the three aforementioned traits in every relationship I enter and every conversation I have, both internally and externally. Achieving successful communication is a complex and seemingly daunting task at times. It is the cause of sleepless nights and stressful days. It is the reason I proofread emails and always have a means for note-taking.
In my quest to improve my communication skills, I recently finished a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. I am not going to summarize the words of Dale Carnegie, but I do encourage anyone with a glimmer of interest to give it a read (and take notes!). Mr. Carnegie reminded me of the importance of continually revisiting the fundamental building blocks for positive results.
Anyone – agency, client, or advertising newbie — can benefit from a reminder of some basic traits for successful, meaningful communication between an agency and its partner. Without further ado, here are four communication traits to remember:
- We are all striving toward the same goal.
Goals, goals, goals. Without goals, we cannot measure our success – and anyone who has worked with NHI before knows how much we love to measure and analyze absolutely everything. The basis of each and every agency/partner relationship starts with that partner’s urgent need to attain a goal. Take note: remembering this goal is what is essential to achieving it – so talk about it together! Revisit it often. Communicating about the ways in which you are on the path to achieving a shared goal strengthens not only your strategy and tactics, but your relationships, too.
- We do not think any less of your abilities when you ask questions.
Remember that time you were in a meeting and did not have a clue what that media director was talking about? Remember when you then asked that “dumb” question for an explanation? Let me tell you this: more respect is earned for the one who admits his or her ignorance and begins a dialogue than the one who pretends to know and later pays for it.
- Learning is a two-way street.
Knowledge is power. I know we have all heard this phrase before, but sometimes I think the more we get into the weeds, the more we forget it. In two offices, and (at times) in two different states, it is too easy to under-communicate from agency to partner, vice-versa. Agencies, remember: as the experts in our field, it is our duty to over-communicate and over-educate our clients about new opportunities, especially the ones that do not necessarily pertain to the work at hand. Clients, remember: We are still learning, and will never have the eye-line that you do into your business. It is your duty to over-communicate and over-educate your agency about key organizational and brand-related changes; we cannot utilize our expertise to its fullest capacity without this knowledge.
- Great relationships are the highway to success.
The business world is filled with murky waters. Am I allowed to be friends with my co-workers? Am I allowed to build relationships with my clients and learn about their lives outside of work? What if they do not like my hobbies? What if they do not like me?
This one is almost too easy. Good communication starts with a meaningful question. Mean what you ask, and care about the answer. The fact is, as we grow professionally, the personal and the business relationships we have should all be given the same care and fostered in the same way. My brother, my handyman, and my client all deserve the same level of respect and consideration when I ask about their weekend. Good relationships are built with care – care about the people you are interacting with; build the foundation to generate success together.
There is plenty more I can offer about this subject, but Rome was not built in a day. I will leave you with this: like any relationship, a great city that is left to care for itself will not stand. Revisit the foundation with care, review each facet, be willing to remodel, plan new ways to improve and expand, and remember your history.