Business & Finance

Teaching New Dogs Better Old Tricks; Bederson, LLC, Shares How to 'Power Up' Communicating in the 21st Century

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Communications Experts Christine Filip and Sharlene Vichness Credits: Joe Ricci
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FAIRFIELD, NJ — In today's business world, one might find a young professional who is comfortable streaming video, working chat rooms and tweeting information. What succesful businesses realize, however, is that these valuable, tech-savvy employees also need great communication skills to succeed.

Bederson, LLP, an accounting firm with offices in Fairfield and West Orange, knows that having top commuications skills in all forms is crucial.

"Today's professionals are so on top of technical skills and devices, but the 'soft' skills are are equally important, such as speaking, presenting and networking effectively and they are very important to do the work and evolve as future business leaders," said Susan Wernick, Public Relations Director at Bederson.

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Communications trainer Sharlene Vichness, president of Language Directions, agreed that learning how to speak appropriately in presentations, phone calls and just casual meetings is important for every employee who works with customers, whether high-level executives or retail customers. Usually, Vichness presents these tips in seminars for business, but she said that everyone can learn to be a better communicator.

According to Vichness, sounding like a confident person immediately sets the tone for any conversation.

"There are many factors that work into that, including the volume at which you speak, your word choice, tonality, regional accent and style," she said. "You need to know how to effectively use these. Your voice should project everything you want your listener to know about you."

Things that fall into those factors include: avoiding using contractions or filler words, like 'um;' avoiding jargon or slang others may not understand; and using the right words and inflections to effectively get your point across.

One humorous example of proper infection is the comment, "Nice Tie Bob." It can come out as a compliment: "Nice tie Bob!" but with a change of inflection and pause, it can come out as sarcasm: "NICE tie, Bob." 

Other things people who primarily use email or text to communicate need to learn are "simple" skils, Vichness said, including looking at the person he or she conversing with and not speaking too quickly, which Vichness said can be perceived as nervousness.

"These things all sound rudimentary, but for a generation that's been communicating through electronic devices most of their lives, learning how to speak and communicate effectively needs to be practiced," said Vichness.

Christine Filip, president of Business Development Partners, said that taking speaking with effective vocal communication leads to more trust and more confidence in the person speaking.

"Why do people work with professionals?" she asked. "They trust that you will be dependable, do a good job and be there when you need them."

Vichness added that influential people in business and in life negotiate with people all the time, from store sales people to the president of a company to family members—though she did advise that "negotiating with teenagers is likely not to be successful, it's just the way it is."

She said that the most important thing for everyone to learn is to be prepared with the information needed for specific situations, whether it's researching plumbers before calling the one or researching the competition of a business contact before talking about a plan to help his or her company.

Vichness also addressed a big fear for many people: being nervous or shy in networking events or even parties where you don't know the people in the room.

"Arrive early, scope out someone who looks just as nervous or shy as you, say hello and start a conversation about them," she said. "People love to talk about themselves—and then the two of you can meet more new people together." 

Wernick said her company feels that improving skills such as these is crucial for anyone to be successful in many areas today, including but not limited to business.

"It is important to know how to do it," she said.

For more information on Bederson, LLP, visit www.bederson.com.

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