We share seven tips for improving your professional communication skills to become a better Salesforce business analyst.
Good business analysts continually strive toward improved professional communication skills. It’s at the heart of successful interactions with stakeholders, clients and industry peers.
Using your words intentionally is a hallmark of good leadership, professionalism and wisdom. While no one is perfect, situational awareness can mean the difference between personal and professional growth and lost opportunities
Countless studies prove how important communication is to business and personal success. Yet, communication is still one of the top areas individuals and organizations admit needs much improvement. By improving your professional communication skills, you’ll prove to be an exception to the rule.
Let’s look at our top seven rules to follow for better professional communication skills that will help you become a better Salesforce business analyst.
1. Recognize and Change Bad Habits
Most of us recognize when others communicate poorly. But do you realize when you do? Identify your bad communication habits and replace them with effective communication habits.
Do you interrupt others when they are speaking? Try taking a deep breath to help you pause before speaking.
On the flip side, do you stay silent for fear of “looking dumb?” When you find yourself wanting to ask a question and then stopping yourself, take a moment to formulate your question (writing it down may help). Then force yourself to speak up. While asking questions in meetings is something many people are uncomfortable with, you will find that you become less fearful the more you do it.
Pro tip: Trying to change all bad habits at once will overwhelm you, causing you to give up. Focus on changing one bad communication habit and move on to the next when you’ve conquered that one.
2. Ignore Preconceived Influences
Our brains process each new piece of information through filters that have developed since childhood. Typically, we are unaware of the influence our personal filters have on incoming messages. In other words, your subconscious affects how you process information.
We tend to listen selectively for what we expect to hear. We screen out things that don’t meet our expectations. Instead, commit to listening and decide you will get something of value out of every conversation. This is critical in the role of a Salesforce Business Analyst. Business analysts need to hear and process all information coming through in the conversation to then ask specific questions to root out all scenarios and potential issues for each business process being discussed.
Pro tip: Take notes. Taking notes forces you to focus on the conversation and helps your brain process and remember the information.
3. Remember Your Client Doesn’t Have a Crystal Ball
I have yet to meet anyone, personally or professionally, who has a working crystal ball. Stakeholders and colleagues will not know your expectations if you don’t communicate them clearly and often.
Clear communication means being direct and concise. If you are giving instructions to someone, be sure to go step-by-step and only provide what is necessary in order to complete those steps.
Regarding communicating expectations often, this is critical when it comes to follow-ups. Have you ever sent an email and asked someone to send you specific information that you need to complete a task? After sending it, do you have the attitude “it’s in their court now?” Then later when the project is falling behind, do you tell the project manager you asked for that information weeks ago but haven’t received it?
You must continue to follow up regularly until you receive the requested information. Do not assume you no longer have responsibility because you are waiting for something. That attitude breeds poor communication. Be proactive, and continue to bring it up until the issue is resolved.
4. Use Your Words to Be an Agent of Change
Speak with confidence to be more effective, influential and a powerful agent of change.
As a Salesforce Business Analyst, you are working on projects that most likely require significant changes to current processes, which may overwhelm the business areas affected by those changes. Speaking confidently with sound knowledge about how those changes will improve processes can ease stress and thereby improve adoption of the changes.
5. Focus on the Facts
Another way to improve your professional communication skills is by communicating honestly and straightforwardly. Do your best to keep emotion out of the conversation. How you say something is as important as what you say.
Avoid using generalizations like “everyone hated that idea” or “nobody supports this initiative.” If you stick to the facts and don’t allow your ego to get in the way, discussions will be more productive and positive.
For example, if stakeholders were very vocal about disliking a change the business sponsor specifically asked for, you need to use your communication skills to understand why. This starts by simply asking why they don’t like the change. If there are 3 people stating they don’t like it, ask each one to give you their reasons for disliking it. Take that information back to the business sponsor so that person has an opportunity to review it.
Just saying “everyone hated it” does not provide value. If you can bring back information that shows the sponsor that they need to consider some things need they may have overlooked, that can, in turn, be a time and expense saver for the business by preventing the implementation of a solution that ultimately was not the best one.
6. Keep Construction Positive
Don’t spend your energy looking for someone to blame for mistakes or problems that come up, and they will come up. Nothing goes smoothly 100 percent of the time. Mistakes are going to happen. However, we can’t move forward when we get defensive about them. Don’t get stuck there, even if it was only five minutes ago.
Just like we don’t have working crystal balls, we can’t go back in time and change things. Focusing on the mistake leaves you stuck in the past without a way to move forward.
To improve your professional communication skills, focus on giving (and receiving) positive constructive criticism. Acknowledge the mistake. Learn from it by considering what you or your team could have done differently to get a better result. Determine what steps need to take place to move forward. And take action to course-correct.
7. Remove Weak Language
Which of these do you regularly use?
- Using “we” instead of “I” or “you.”
- Softening your communication by saying “I guess,” “I wish” or “I think.”
- Prefacing phrases with “just.”
- How often do you compose an email with phrases like: “I am just writing to follow up” or “I feel that we’re taking the right approach”?
I know I’ve been guilty of some of these. Weak language sabotages your ability to present yourself with confidence. By saying, “I may not have the expertise,” you imply you definitely do not have the expertise, which isn’t necessarily true. When we pepper statements with words like “just” and “feel,” our language projects a lack of confidence and credibility.
The key is to catch yourself. If you are writing to follow up, then say so – take the word “just” out of the sentence. If you know it’s the right approach, state it. “I am confident we are taking the right approach.”
Pro Tip: After writing your email, carefully review it before sending it and remove those weak words and phrases. Replace the soft terms “I think,” “I believe,” and “I feel” for more assertive phrases like “I’m confident,” “I’m convinced,” and “I expect.”
Making these simple changes can make a difference in the perception of your communications and credibility.
Fearlessness does not mean that you have to be aggressive or loud. Strong communication allows you to be direct and assertive (without being cruel) and will create an environment where your clients and colleagues feel this freedom also.
You will come across as being unsure and uncommitted when you use weak language, which in turn will cause your clients and project teams to feel the same way. If you want them to have confidence in you, then you need to project confidence in yourself.
It’s helpful to remember that courage is the foundation of successful communication, and successful communication is the foundation of accomplishment. Focus on these points to improve your professional communication skills. You will not only develop better workplace relationships, but you’ll also improve your analysis skills, provide better solutions, and have more successful projects.
The Salesforce Certified Business Analyst credential is a great way to reinforce that you have the necessary communication skills and other critical skills to support clients that are implementing Salesforce solutions.