When it comes to communication within any business or between businesses: “Always be the one to make the first move.” That means don’t hesitate – don’t think to yourself, “Well, he or she probably already knows that so it may be unnecessary to confirm the information with them…” Be bold. Be a courageous communicator. Make the first move.

The success of a business relationship is based on communication and on the actions taken by the people involved. Communication is the key aspect that connects everything else, and it’s not just the type of communication that matters, it’s the tone and the content, too.

Type of communication: In a business setting, communication is often about tasks that need to be accomplished. If you think something needs to get done and it’s not your job to do it, be the first to communicate the need to the right person in a tactful way. (See the section about Tone below.) If you have arranged a meeting or need to confirm one, be the first to communicate with the other person or people involved. Between businesses, communication is often about orders placed and account-related questions. Don’t hesitate to communicate if you have questions about shipping times, order status, or follow-up questions after equipment purchases, etc. If you don’t hear back from the person you’re trying to communicate with, don’t give up. Wait a reasonable amount of time for a response and then make another attempt at communication. Keep the ball rolling!

Tone: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Use tact! And remember, there is a human being on the other end of the communication, and that person has feelings. The old saying holds true: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Remember that you’re not trying to win an argument – you are trying to get a task accomplished. If you need the cooperation of others, you’d better ask in a nice way.

Content: Keep it appropriate to the task involved and to the business setting in general. Remember the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? Well, he made such a fuss getting people’s attention when he had nothing important to say that when he did have an urgent matter to communicate, everyone ignored him. And it’s possible that he died, or at least a bunch of sheep did. So the moral of the story is: it is important to communicate what is necessary to get the job done. Full stop.

Miscommunication and under-communication are the cause of many problems including delays in servicing clients and errors leading to customer complaints. Yet these are easy mistakes to avoid if you remember the golden rule of communication: fortune favors the bold, so always be the one to make the first move!