Communication before strategyBY DAPHNE LIEW
Generally, Singaporeans are poor communicators. Most of us, born and bred in Singapore, cannot claim that we have a native tongue.
What is our native language? For the ethnic Chinese, is it Mandarin? For the ethnic Malays, is it Bahasa Melayu? For the ethnic Indians, is it Tamil or Hindi? And, for the Eurasians, what is it?
So, don’t blame us if we speak Singlish. Because we are not native English speakers, even though we may speak the language at home, at work and went through the whole education system in English. And, we are similarly not native in the other languages as well.
If this language paradox is not enough, we are even more ‘mixed up’ culturally. Yes, the racial, cultural and religious diversities are what make us proud to be Uniquely Singapore. They also contribute to the vibrancy and colours of a great city which has attracted almost 1.5 million of non-resident foreigners to our land.
My point is: all these could have contributed significantly to our poor communication skills. Besides struggling to get a good grip and a solid command of one specific language, we are also hindered by a mixed of Asian cultures that make us conservative in expression or reserved in mannerism (body language). Many surveys have concluded that body language is the most significant contributor to effective communication.
You could have the best business strategy operating in a dynamic economic Hub that is Singapore, but, strategy cannot work on its own; it has to be effectively communicated for flawless execution.
Be it interpersonal communication or business communication, we need people who can communicate clearly and effectively for strategies to be successful. And, it is no coincidence that often a successful person is someone who excels in communication.
Communication is always overlooked in growing a business or, at best, an afterthought. In order to position your company correctly and strategically, you first need to understand what it is that you need to communicate about your company – what’s the story?
In order to build a brand, you need to communicate what the brand stands for to the right audience. In order to sell a product or service, you need to communicate its USP (unique selling proposition) to consumers.
Business communication is to: tell; persuade; and, convince. Undoubtedly, you do need to have a strategy to communicate. But, it is as important toensure that you are able to communicate your strategy before rolling out that strategy.