7 Key Business Communication Skills To Improve Your Company’s Productivity
There is one language of success; communication can be among your team, customers, and investors. When communication is not practical, it affects productivity. Companies with connected employees are 20-25% more productive. This implies that poor communication in your company can derail operations.
Regardless of company size, organizations demand effective communication to achieve productivity. In most organizations, it is difficult to manage business communication effectively because of the number of people and hierarchy levels.
This article will cover how to achieve business communication and why you need business communication for your company’s success.
WHAT IS BUSINESS COMMUNICATION?
Business communication is sharing information from one person to another within and outside the business environment. It promotes the organization’s goals, aims, and objectives.
Communication is vital in business and one of the secrets to improving teamwork.
“Business communication is a process of exchanging ideas, opinions, information, orders and the like, expressed either personally or not through certain signs or symbols to achieve certain company’s goals.” — Frank Rosenblatt
“Communication between two or more businessmen for organizing and administering business efficiently is called business communication.” — Prof J Haste
Unlike every other form of communication, business communication is always goal-oriented. Therefore, business communication becomes effective when employees and management interact with each other to achieve goals, reduce errors, and keep employees informed.
Communication in business involves sharing information between you and your employees and colleagues. It could be information sharing between you and your business insurers, partners, investors, and other businesses.
Every successful and growing business must ensure a free and regular flow of information and feedback within their company. The free and frequent flow of information aids in planning, coordinating, organizing, executing, and directing tasks to achieve the company’s goals.
Communication is only effective when the intended message is delivered, received, and understood. As a business owner, there are key elements to watch out for in your business communication.
- Sender – the information transmitter could be employers, employees, inventors, government agencies, and other businesses. For example, the manager wants to introduce the employees to a new product. The manager in this scenario is this sender.
- The Message – is the business information. Business information could be a business report, memo, letter, presentation, or tasks targeted toward the organization’s benefit. For example, the message is the introduction of a new product.
- Encoding – this is the process of sharing the message. Encoding is the transition of thoughts, ideas, and feelings into spoken words, written words, and other forms such as images. For example, the manager connects and passes the information in words and visuals.
- Media – this is the form in which the encoded business information passes to the receiver. The medium could be digital or manual. “Digital” uses social media, radio, and television. “Manual” can be in a face-to-face manner or through written words. For example, the manager could pass on the information about the new product in a presentation at the office.
- Decoding – involves translating the encoded information into an understandable language for the receiver.
- The receiver – is the person who gets the business information. For example, the employees are the receivers.
- Feedback – This marks the completion of the communication process. It is the receiver’s response.
TYPES OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
In business, there are three major types of communication – internal, horizontal, and external business communication.
1. Internal Business Communication
Internal business communication is a form of formal or informal communication within the organization. A company can only reflect on the outside what it is on the inside. If your company’s internal communication is effective, it can achieve formidable productivity.
But, imagine a scenario where employees were not made aware of the goals; what kind of results do you expect? Workers’ inability to access information needed and required results in confusion and stress.
74% of employees reported feeling they are missing out on the company’s news because the internal communication department is doing a poor job or is non-existent.
Internal business communication exists in two ways; internal upward and internal downward communication.
Internal Upward Communication
This form of communication starts from the bottom and goes to the top. It usually occurs between the subordinate and a manager or anyone in your business’s hierarchy.
Engaging in internal upward communication ensures that information is duly communicated and shared. It involves exchanging ideas, providing solutions, communicating feedback, and presenting ideas or suggestions. Business owners can allow access to internal upward communication in their various enterprises.
Apart from regularly submitting reports or tasks or communicating feedback, allow workers access to exchange ideas and suggestions. Employers who accept the motions or decline the recommendation in a kind manner have won a special place in the workers’ minds. It shows you genuinely care about their opinions, and it improves productivity.
Internal upward communication structures include reports, forms, templates, suggestion boxes, surveys, etc., all in a bid to assist employers in gaining the required and detailed information.
Upward communication benefits both you, the employer, and your employees. You, the employer, are made aware of the company’s achievements, challenges, and employees’ feelings about the job and the organization in general.
It helps you with sound decision-making. As an employee, internal upward communication facilitates your involvement in the company’s decision-making, provides you an avenue to express your true feelings, and confirms your level of receptiveness to the message sent to the management.
Examples of internal upward communication include a team leader sending reports of tasks allocated to his team for the week to the departmental head manager. Workers send in filled surveys to their supervisors about the task at hand.
Internal Downward Communication
In internal downward communication, there is a flow of information from the top management to the employees in the organization. Employers use internal downward communication in assigning tasks, providing goals and policies, and giving feedback about performance.
Internal downward communication serves the purpose of motivation; motivation is the heartbeat of productivity.
Motivation makes the work easier and faster, given that 90% of employees say recognition makes them work harder. Another purpose of internal downward communication is advice, instructions, and orders.
Internal downward communication increases efficiency and keeps the workers in the loop of the organization’s plans, procedures, strategies, and policies. It also creates beautiful interpersonal and inter-group relationships between the management and the workers.
This relationship ensures good within the company. The information in the internal downward communication canlabor-management relations pass from the Board of Directors to the manager, the manager to the departmental heads, the departmental heads to the teams, and these teams to the individual workers.
Internal downward communication appears in the following format; job instructions, task rationales, feedback, employee indoctrination, procedures, and practices.
An example of internal downward communication is a team leader sharing the organization’s policies and strategies with the team members. Communicating feedback to your employees doesn’t only increase work performance but also encourages employee engagement.
2. Horizontal/Lateral Business Communication
Horizontal or lateral communication refers to communication among co-workers, either verbally or in written communication. It is communication between people of similar ranks or inter-departmental communication.
Horizontal business communication involves people in the same hierarchy. For example, communication between the sales manager and the production manager and communication among workers in a team are all examples of lateral communication.
The sole purpose of horizontal business communication in your company is to create cooperation among people. This type of communication can be word-to-word and in personal meetings.
3. External Business Communication
External business communication refers to communication with people who are external to the organization. People who are external to the organization include shareholders, government agencies, regulatory bodies, suppliers, and manufacturers.
Organizations connect and communicate with other external organizations to achieve their goals. You can use external business communication to inform, educate and entertain people outside your organization.
External communication can take place either formally or informally.
Formal (external) Business Communication
These are professionally structured to build the organization’s image. They could be in formal letters, electronic mail, or presentations. Formal external business communication can occur in places such as
- Conferences, seminars, and live concerts.
- Emails and newsletters. They create offers to customers and investors, increase sales, and build long-term relationships with shareholders and investors. Customers and clients receive email messages on discounts and freebies.
- Press releases. Companies use press releases to improve their brand image and credibility through press releases and media outlets. You can also obtain new customers and investors through this medium.
Informal (external) Business Communication
The information in informal business communication is not formal; it comes in a relaxed tone, ensuring effective communication. Hence, informal business communication comes to life when communicating to customers, convincing them to make a purchase or subscribe to something.
Firms use social media posts, blog posts, advertising videos, and commercials to pass information to customers and potential customers. The tone you use in passing information through these channels is informal and more relaxed.
Another form of informal external business communication is the communication done by workers about the business or organization in the organization’s external environment.
For example, some colleagues at work can meet at a restaurant to discuss their work-assigned tasks and probably provide solutions to an impeding danger looming at work.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Business communication skills are soft skills that help to convey information from one person to another in the workplace. These skills ought to be possessed by all working staff of any company; they help to ensure productivity and success in the company.
Good communication is the cornerstone of every business. If you fail to employ it, you risk having your organization in shambles. Communication inspires collaboration, which in turn inspires teamwork.
One Queens University of Charlotte Infographic shows that 75% of employers view collaboration and teamwork as important aspects of a successful business.
Each employee must have the necessary communication skills for effective business communication in your company.
1. Active Listening Skills
Active listening skills build your influence at work and help foster work relationships between management and customers; and among team members. It is listening to and unifying other people’s views in your communication.
Possessing active listening skills shows that you value the opinions of others and you are open to new concepts.
Being actively engaged with your conversation partner creates a sense of enthusiasm and also enables people to respond to you faster. In a conversation, pay attention as much as you can.
Pay attention to body language, and listen to the words. If you have issues understanding what was said, repeat what you think you heard to the conversation partner and listen while he affirms or corrects you.
If you have trouble focusing on the words, repeat them in your head to absorb the information. Avoid interrupting the person you’re listening to, but show interest in the conversation by using comments such as “I see, Yes, or Okay.”
In business, conversations are strenuous; but if you actively listen to all meetings, attendance, seminars, instructions, and tasks, there won’t be many task-related problems in the company.
2. Collaboration Skills
Collaboration and teamwork are vital keys to business success. Collaboration skills are necessary for working with your colleagues to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives.
This implies that good collaboration equals increased employee satisfaction, which equals high quality in a product or service.
To be a good collaborator, you must learn to ask lots of questions, respect people’s opinions and suggestions, consider issues from their perspectives, and gain their trust. Collaboration also requires emotional intelligence.
Sometimes people tend to make decisions based on emotion rather than logic; this could be used properly in communicating with customers and clients. Emotional intelligence also plays a role in your relationships with your colleagues and employers.
3. Public Speaking Skill
Public speaking is a significant criterion for most roles in a company. Whether you’re to speak in meetings, seminars, in front of your colleagues, or before an entire team to present a project, you must convey your message clearly and concisely.
Preparing a speech can help engage an audience and attract investors, professionals, and other agencies.
This involves the ability to connect with an audience through storytelling, creating relevant and engaging information. Stories have proven to be an effective means of illustrating points and actions as people react better to personal tales.
One major issue with public speaking is anxiety. A way to conquer anxiety is to create a plan to tackle your fears associated with public speaking. Create flashcards with the vital points of your speech to avoid forgetting your speech.
During the process of your speech, be open to questions and keep your audience engaged. Public speaking helps build confidence and rapport.
You can also take online public speaking courses to enhance your skills further.
4. Writing Skills
Writing is another vital part of communication in any field or industry. Writing involves sending messages, writing reports, writing minutes, emails, reviewing documents, and so much more.
Being prolific is not mandatory; the basics are enough to carry you through.
Written communication for businesses must be brief and informative. Your audience’s focus must be on the crucial points.
Clarity is the highlight of every business, and every employer and employee needs this skill. After writing anything, look at it again and ensure it conveys the message you want, that your facts are accurate, and you are respectful with your words.
These questions can help in writing to ascertain clarity:
- Is it true?
- Is it respectful?
- Is it necessary?
Excluding the manual form of writing, there are emails and social media posts to compose messages and write-ups. Emails are the official means of communication between businesses; you must treat them like you would a written copy.
As an employer, be friendly and informal with your workers but never let it be evident in writing. Your writing must be formal.
5. Non-verbal Communication Skill
Communication stretches beyond verbal and written communication. You can say a lot without uttering a word. Facial expressions and body language can speak better than written words.
Body language is a type of non-verbal communication, and it includes eye contact, posture, stance, tone of voice, breathing, and other gestures.
Be aware of your body language before seeking it out in others. Your control over your body language helps put you in check of the image you show in the workplace.
You can also understand someone else’s predicament with their body language and gestures. This way, you can achieve effective communication; understand when your conversation partner is with you and not with you, know when to stop and take a recess, and know when your audience or conversation partner understands.
Non-verbal communication comes in handy during meetings. “It is no secret that your body language may shape who you are” – Amy Cuddy. Sometimes, we display body language without knowing it.
How you sit in the office speaks a lot about you; do you sit straight or slumped? A slumped posture can be an indication of tiredness. Avoiding eye contact with your co-workers could be a sign of low confidence and low self-esteem.
These cues you display, either knowingly or unknowingly, can cause people around you to infer things and vice versa. Learn to control your body language and be aware of other people’s body language.
6. Feedback and Input
Communication is never complete without feedback. Effective communication thrives on regular feedback and input, implying that if there’s no room for constant feedback and input, your communication has no headway.
You need to implement a feedback culture in your company. If there is none, then start building it.
Feedback should be constructive, not destructive. Employers should not give destructive feedback, as this will come back to bite them. Destructive feedback reduces the employees’ motivation and gives them access to grumble and murmur while working, impacting productivity.
However, constructive feedback encourages reflective thinking and improvement. Employees can see where they erred and how to fix it.
Sharing feedback in the workplace inspires ideas and creativity. It provides insight and clarity into the work done. Any organization that doesn’t create a feedback system for its employees has little success.
7. Presentation Skill
Formal communication in the workplace often takes the form of a presentation, and many employers are looking to hire people with this skill. Your ability to complete yourself to develop and deliver engaging presentations to diverse audiences is a necessary skill.
Your presentation skills also help with the structure of your presentation. It further stretches to designing your presentation framework and delivery method.
Your presentation skills include oral speaking, visual representation, and non-verbal communication.
Oral speaking comes into play in discussing the project and its solution. This discussion is best illustrated with visuals such as images and videos, and your body language during the presentation can either sell what you’re offering or be an obstacle.
Your body language can show if you’re confident, scared of what you’re saying, disinterested, or even tired of being there. It is safe to say that presentation skills have about three business communication skills merged inside them`.
8. Negotiation Skill
You must improve your negotiation skills when dealing with other businesses, brands, suppliers, and agencies. These skills are necessary for evaluating alternative solutions to problems, seeking compromise, and building rapport with other professionals.
Businesses rely heavily on negotiations to seek new investors, acquire new partners, make sales transactions, and so on.
Negotiation skills are also seen in employees and employers striking a salary agreement.
In business, you must not always agree with your conversation partner. But your ability to reach an agreement or compromise relies heavily on your negotiation skills.
Remember, the aim is to achieve the organization’s goal.
The 7Cs Of Effective Business Communication
Effective communication is the best way to engage people such that the company achieves its goals.
Business communication must be clear and easily understandable to the receiver. Straightforwardly express your goals and objectives and never allow the purpose of your message to be lost in the multitude of words.
For a message to be clear, the sender must be clear about the message they want to deliver. Let your receiver know why they are receiving the message and its purpose. If there are multiple purposes, lay them all out.
The next stage to clarity is ensuring the content of the message is clear. To create clear communication, avoid jargon, use simple language, and focus on your message’s clear point.
Ensure that the message is accurate – the factual information and the grammar you use. If your audience spots grammatical and typographical errors in your message, they become distracted.
As distracted as they are, they lose interest in your business information. It also reduces your credibility.
Think about your audience, their personality, and occupation. Do you think they will understand your message? The more accurate your information is, the more faith and dependence people will have on you.
Your message must include all the required details and information your audience needs. You bare it all out to your audience and allow them to make their choice.
When creating a message, leave no stone unturned. You must give all the necessary information to your audience so they follow and arrive at the same conclusion you did.
You can attach a ‘Call To Action or FAQs’ to ensure your audience has a complete background of the business information passed. Complete information helps the organization’s decision-making and answers all questions the receivers might have.
A concrete message is not lacking in information. It is filled with examples and specific details that clearly illustrate the message. Write down all solid facts and opinions with their sources.
Build on each logic and message and ensure they support each other. You should build your arguments on facts and opinions from credible sources, not your feelings. Never fail to use examples to bring out the message you have to live.
Stick to the points and keep the messages short and simple. Don’t use 20 words when you can use 10; state your points in the shortest possible words.
In addition, avoid repetition. Make it simple and short because the more you say, the more likely you will repeat it, which can confuse you sometimes.
Avoid filler words and ensure that each sentence is straight to the point and informative. Audiences appreciate brief and compelling messages over longer ones; it helps with information retention.
Show your audience you have high respect and regard for them. Failure to do so shows your audience you have nothing tangible to offer. Let every aspect of your communication show humility and politeness.
Consider your messages from the viewer’s point of view. Your messages must be friendly, professional, considerate, open, and honest. Let it not make a mockery of your opposition or part of your audience.
Your message should not be biased and contain terms that show respect for your audience or receiver.
7. Consideration and Coherence
To have efficient communication, the sender must consider the receiver’s viewpoints, expertise, frame of mind, background, etc. The sender must be involved and connected to the recipient to communicate.
Effective communication encourages trust, productivity, and engagement. This is because it is more than just a conversation. You are exchanging ideas and passing key information.
This is one of the many reasons why there is miscommunication.
Aside from the 7Cs of communication, there are other ways to ensure communication is as effective as possible.
Be Authentic As You Communicate
Authentic communication is communication filled with integrity, empathy, honesty, and self-awareness. It involves active listening, creating a safe space for people to communicate their feelings, and sharing your feelings as well.
In an environment with authentic communication, the workers feel inclusive; their voices are valued and considered. This feeling creates a sense of harmony and teamwork among workers.
Communication is done clearly and honestly, preventing miscommunication and confusion. People are more willing to trust people who are authentic in their communication. As an employer, the more honest you are with your employees, the more trust they have.
Authenticity doesn’t just happen like that. You have to:
- Pay attention to what is being said and make others feel heard
- Clarify when speaking on behalf of others. Always speak for yourself instead.
- Be polite and have a respectful tone in your speech
- Build a rapport between you and others to understand them
- Consider how you communicate; verbally, non-verbal, and in body language.
- Prioritize teamwork.
Manage Non- Verbal Signs to Control the Message
Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, said 55% of communication is nonverbal and 38% is vocal, while only 7% consists of spoken words.
The above statistics mean your body language consists more of business information than words. For effective communication to occur, your body language must be in sync with your spoken words.
For example, suppose you constantly look at the clock or your watch during a conversation. In that case, it shows your conversation partner that you are not interested in the conversation and have better things to do. Start paying attention to other people’s unspoken characters, and you will improve your own.
- Pay attention to eye contact, tone of voice, gestures, postures, and body movements.
- Have intervals of eye contact lasting four to five seconds with your conversation partner. Effective eye contact should feel natural to you and your conversation partner.
- Too much eye contact seems intimidating, and the inability to look someone in the eye may suggest you are hiding something.
- Remember your verbal and non-verbal communication work together. To strike a self-confident stance, stand firmly in one place. Keep your shoulders back and keep your weight balanced on both feet.
- Showing an animated tone of voice indicates a genuine interest in something.
- Learn to relate emotions to body language; someone can say they are alright but have a sullen face.
Use the Right Tools
Effective communication requires the right tools. And since remote jobs are now the new normal, team communication tools are digital. Most organizations that are not remote still operate in a hybrid setting and have meetings and communication online.
Even the physical company regulates all their meetings online, with few happening in the office. These digital tools have allowed people separated by location to communicate effectively. Some of these tools are;
- Online group meetings and discussions using Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet.
All these sums up the commandments of effective communication.
Poor business communication can destroy your business. There will be a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunication. It is only a matter of time before the business crumbles to the ground.
As offices are transitioning to remote and hybrid jobs, businesses need effective communication now more than ever.
The right digital tools and training should be available to employers and employees to ensure they keep up with the trend.
Business communication helps increase business retention, performance, productivity, and profit.
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