In business situations, how you communicate is often as important as what your say.

When working with employees, contractors, suppliers, and even customers, it is critical to articulate your expectations, put yourself in their shoes, and note consequences for either success or failure.

Understanding Expectations

Your stakeholders are looking for a deliverable. How can you be sure that the outcome is what they want?

In many functions, including the media world that I live in, people tend to focus on the numbers.  Implementing a new initiative? What are the projected impressions, links, click-throughs, etc.?  Are your likes or followers increasing?

For sales folks, tracking appointments, proposals, and dollars are key.

For suppliers, cost, quality, and delivery are top metrics. When creating numbers, work with each individual to agree upon the deliverable. You might start by asking them what they feel is appropriate.

However, focusing only on the numbers can result in not seeing the forest for the trees. Spend some time with each stakeholder discussing where your business is going – and what role they have in helping you achieve success.

By creating alignment between the numbers and the success of your business, you allow the person to contribute at a higher level. Working together, you may find the number you expect will not provide the success you desire.

Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

Most of the time, we focus on what is important to us and our business. But how about your employees, suppliers, customers, and prospects? What is important to them? Putting yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders can provide a new insight into your relationships.

Here are a couple of tactics to deploy. If you are in the process of closing a prospect, stop and look at the current situation from their point of view. Rather than telling them why they should purchase from you, ask them why they are choosing you.

Want to be a bit brave? Try to talk them out of choosing your company. You’d be surprised how this unexpected tactic can actually reinforce their decision to choose you.

Dealing with an employee, contractor, or supplier? Ask them why what they are working on with you is important to them? How is the task helping their business move to the next level? What are their expectations of the relationship?

I just finished producing a couple of videos for a business forum. One of our sponsors offered to create them at a very reasonable price. Putting myself in their shoes, we created a couple of pieces that worked well for us, but also for them – more plays for us, more visibility for them.

Knowing the Consequences

Everyone wants to be part of success. No one wishes to fail. But rarely do we articulate the consequences of either success or failure.

Consequences should result from the expectations you have created. Assuming you have worked together to create the goals, it is logical that you will collaborate on the consequences. Just as with expectations, ask what should the consequence be for success? Or failure?

In the world of content creation, compliments and positive testimonials can be great rewards. However, what consequences exist for failure? You would be surprised at the ability creators have to come up with creative excuses for not going through this exercise.

Recently, I was working with a partner on a newsletter. I provided the video link, but when the newsletter came out, the link was broken. When I brought this to their attention and asked for the newsletter to be resent, the reply came back: “We can’t do that.”

The consequence should have been if we do it wrong, we do it again.

These are just three tips for getting better perspective around aspects of your business. What other tactics would you suggest?