We come into contact with so many different groups of people, so we need to have more than one mode of communication. Your boss, your direct reports, your partner, your clients, your colleagues — they all need and expect different things from you.

360-degree communication offers techniques you can employ to deal with different groups of people:

Your boss

He expects you to do your job — that’s why he hired you — so when he interacts with you, he wants to hear about what you have been doing, especially what you have completed. Here are three tips:

•  Keep positive: If you have a challenge, offer a solution as well.

•  No surprises: Honesty is always the best policy. If you have made a genuine mistake, admit it, be upfront and give your manager a chance to prepare for any fallout there may be.

•  Be inclusive: Don’t complain about other people to your boss. Avoid being like the “comedian” who can only make people laugh by poking fun at others; be credible and great at what you do without having to malign your colleagues.

Your direct report 

Just as you will want to impress your boss, your direct reports will want to do the same with you. They also need something in return — to hear information about the business, to know how their job fits in and contributes to the bigger picture. They also need to know you care about them and their development. Practise these tips:

•  Set the communication temperature: Teach open communication to give them an opportunity to voice their opinions; set up regular briefings with the team informing them of what is happening in the business, within their department and even the industry.

•  Engagement interviews: Spend at least an hour speaking to staff individually about what they are passionate about, what they enjoy about their job, how you can make their lives easier, why they stay with the company. This information is like gold dust and will give you great insights into how your team can be more productive and how to keep them engaged.

Your client

Be someone with integrity, who can be relied on to do good work; someone your client wants to do business with. Build a track record based on success and delivery. Be an expert in your field and use your knowledge and network to add value to your client. Here’s how:

Be a skilful inquirer: Ask a lot of questions, gather information and really understand your client, their needs and where you can help and add value.

Know their style: We all have a preferred style of communication. Some of us like data, others value relationships; some like to make decisions quickly and others prefer to consider all angles before making a more informed decision. Knowing if your client is more about data or relationships could be the key to getting the next deal signed.

Article by Sarah Schubert, a professional voice coach and leadership development consultant with New Voice Communications. With over 20 years’ international experience in the corporate and performing arts arena, she blends voice development with business and personal productivity in a unique way. For more information, visit www.newvoicecommunications.com