Whether it is an employee, a customer or a vendor, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself in the perplexing position of wondering why you can’t seem to communicate with this person. They zig, you zag. They don’t get your sense of humor or you don’t get theirs. OR you simply do not get along, but you cannot bail on the relationship. It is too important for business. What can you do to curtail more issues or cure the current ones?

Be sure you ask first “is it me”? If communication seems to have deteriorated, make sure first that you examine your own mood and behavior. Are you particularly stressed out at work or home? Are you suffering from some financial difficulties? Is there too much on your plate?

Acknowledge the communication failure to yourself and the other party. Let them know it seems you aren’t clicking and you want to understand why. Relay that you’ve looked closely at your own behavior. Ask them if they sense the difficulty as well and what they think the problem is.

Try to be honest. Are either of you harboring resentment agains the other? Is the employee frustrated because of lack of expected responsibility? Are you irritated with the customer for dragging their feet on paying invoices? Addressing these concerns, gently, will improve communication concerns significantly.

Create a plan. Ask “what can we do to make this better?” of yourself and the other person. Be consistent in what they’ve asked of you.

Solicit feedback. After the conversation, from time to time, be upfront and ask the other person if they think communication has improved? If not, ask what next steps need to be taken. If so, celebrate!

Effectively communicating in your business relationships is a key component to customer and employee retention and your business success. Addressing issues as they arise is the fastest way to keep them in check.


by Steven Schlagel