Effective Business Communication
Article from: Deputy
Written by: Katie Sawyer
Edited by: Mehak Sarwar (Management Coach)
This article gives you a variety of practical methods in improving the communication between your colleagues, boss and other employees within your company. Additionally, it gives a better insight into what good communication is as a whole and all the different forms it can appear in.
Effective Business Communication Techniques
As a business owner, communication is one of the most important skills you should possess. Effective communication is necessary for the growth of your business because it impacts every aspect of your company. Strong communication skills affect your relationship with your employees, suppliers, and customers. Proven communication techniques demonstrate strong leadership skills and give your employees confidence in your ability to grow your company. Communicating effectively also helps to develop a positive workplace culture where team members feel valued.
Types of communication techniques
There are three main types of communication techniques in business. The mix of these communication techniques allows your employees to be clear about your goals and their role in achieving your objectives.
Here are the three types of communication techniques:
- Verbal communication techniques
Verbal communication is used to discuss ideas, express opinions, relay orders and persuade listeners. An effective verbal communicator is clear about the message they want to convey and is willing to listen to opposing arguments. Verbal communication also involves being prepared to support arguments with concrete examples. It is important to maintain a positive tone of voice when verbally communicating face-to-face and over the phone.
Here are some business settings that require verbal communication:
- Conference calls.
- Project discussions.
- Business proposals.
- Non-verbal communication
It is reported that over 90% of messages are conveyed through non-verbal communication. This statistic demonstrates the importance of non-verbal communication when interacting with business contacts. A common aspect of non-verbal communication is body language. Communicating using body language includes movement, gesture, and posture. Eye contact is also another important aspect of non-verbal communication. Engaging eye contact shows that you are interested in what is being said and are listening attentively. However, a balance must be struck in relation to eye contact because too much eye contact could be perceived as a sign of aggression and too little eye contact could be regarded as a sign of disinterest.
There are thousands of non-verbal cues when communicating, including the following:
- Leaning forward, ignoring distractions and nodding slowly are signs of paying attention.
- Crossing arms, using a physical barrier and glancing around as though searching for an escape indicate a defensive approach.
- Smiling, steady breathing and an unwrinkled forehead are signs that the person is relaxed.
- Written communication
Email is the most common form of written communication in business. Most companies use email or other forms of electronic messaging to communicate with their team. Although emails appear more casual than writing a letter, they still hold significant weight in terms of how you and your company are perceived.
Emails should be used with caution when communicating sensitive information. Emails must always be professional in tone and should be proofread to ensure that there are no grammatical errors or typos.
The following should be considered when communicating in writing:
- Audience – Think about who will be reading your email before you send it. Knowing your audience will help you to adjust your tone so your message is delivered in the most effective way.
- Formality – The level of formality will be amended according to your audience and the type of written communication. For example, a business letter will be written in a more formal tone than an email. You can use headings and formatting to change the formality of written communication.
- Style – The style of your written communication will depend on the method you use. For instance, emails should be as brief as possible.
Effective communication techniques
The three types of communications above can be incorporated into effective communication techniques for your business.
The following are some effective communication techniques to relay your message in a professional way:
Your individual team members have different personalities and, therefore, some may be more comfortable discussing issues on a one-on-one basis. This communication technique is best when raising sensitive topics because this will prevent embarrassment. It is not always possible to speak to your team members on a one-on-one basis because, for legal reasons, some issues may require the involvement of an HR representative.
Visual communication may be more effective for some of your employees. Presentations help to communicate your message in a visual way. Using presentations also provides the opportunity to make your message as brief as possible to prevent information overload.
Business training can be delivered in different formats. Training can be administered in person or using electronic methods. Either way, training is a vital aspect of communicating your company’s ideas and expectations. You should aim to make training as engaging as possible to increase the likelihood of your employees retaining the information.
Team meetings are an effective way to get your message across and to listen to what your team has to say. Team meetings can only be effective when participants are encouraged to be open and honest. As a business owner and manager, you should take the lead and set the pace in your team meeting to promote a culture of openness.
The following effective communication techniques will help you lead with authority so people will follow your directions:
Be confident and serious
Communicating with certainty will instill confidence in others. It is difficult for others to buy-in to your message if your communication isn’t serious and uncertain.
Avoid questions and use statements
It may appear more diplomatic to ask questions, however, there are instances when you need to direct your team. Using the words “will you?” allows your team member to say “no” and then provide an excuse. To avoid this situation, use directives, like “I need you to.”
Although you need to portray a professional image that asserts your authority, you can still maintain a friendly approach when communicating. Adopt a friendly tone in both written and in-person communication because being polite makes it easier to get the best out of your team. Simple touches in written communication, like “I hope you enjoyed your weekend” works wonders to build positive business relationships.
Communicate using clear and simple words to avoid any misunderstanding. Use words that everyone can understand so there will be no room for confusion. Incorporating complex words when communicating is ineffective because you may have to spend time explaining what you meant. Alternatively, the listener may not ask for clarification and go away feeling confused.
Include a deadline
Communicating without giving a concrete deadline for the completion of tasks will lead to your team adding your request to the bottom of their to-do lists. Give your team deadlines to emphasize that your requests should be made a priority. Deadlines add a sense of urgency to your communication, which means that you can hold your team accountable if the deadline is missed.
Listen to your employees
Effective communication includes listening as well as speaking. Although your message is important, you also have to demonstrate that you value your employees’ opinion by always being prepared to listen. Make an effort to actively listen to others. Active listening involves paying close attention to what you are being told and asking questions to clarify if necessary.
Keep an open mind
This communication technique follows on from listening. Being open-minded when communicating means that you are willing to understand someone’s point of view, even if you have already formed preconceived ideas. For a more productive conversation, you should adopt a flexible communication approach when you disagree with someone.
Repeat important information
Your team is inundated with information on a daily basis. An effective communication technique is to repeat your requests. This technique is vital when there is pushback against what you have asked for. For example, your team member may believe that a request to produce a report is not urgent and offer reasons for this belief. In this scenario, show that you have listened to your employee’s reasons and repeat that the report still remains an urgent priority. This approach demonstrates that you have listened, however, your position still remains the same.
Your communication will be more effective if you show respect when speaking and writing to others. Simple gestures, like making eye contact and using a person’s name, can result in your employees feeling more appreciated. Avoiding distractions is also a sign that you respect the person enough to give them your undivided attention.
Strategies for effective communication
Your workplace should have a communication strategy in place to ensure that all communication is respectful, effective, and fits in with your company’s values.
The following should be included in your communication strategy to ensure effective communication:
Adjust your communication according to the recipient
Everyone receives and interprets information differently. You should encourage your employees to think about the recipient before sending information. For example, some people prefer to receive detailed information, while others only need a snapshot of the details.
Let people know why your communication is important
List the advantages of your communication so that people will know how it benefits them. For example, state the outcomes of meetings to the attendees. People are more likely to be engaged if they believe they will benefit from a specific communication.
Communicate important news in person
It is best to deliver very important news, whether good or bad, in person. For instance, if your company is planning to make changes to its staff structure, you should speak to the affected employees in person. This reduces the chance of misunderstandings and allows your employees to ask questions about the process.
Communicate your message at the appropriate time
News travels fast in companies. You should communicate important information in a timely way to prevent your employees from being misinformed. Communicating information on time will put a stop to people spreading gossip and will also get everyone on the same page.