Get out there and talk! A 2021 study found that only 2% of conversations end when both people want them to end. Unfortunately, many conversations draw to a close because one or both people don’t know how to be effective communicators.
Business professionals must have the best communication skills possible in order to achieve success in the business world. Yet you don’t need a business communication degree to be successful. You just need to know about a few critical concepts of this important skill.
What types of business communication are there? How can you form good connections with coworkers and clients? How can you come off as a confident, trustworthy, and efficient speaker?
Answer these questions, and you can start communicating effectively in the workplace. Here are 11 great tips.
1. Understand Upward, Downward, and Lateral Business Communication
Upward Business Communication
Upward communication occurs when someone low on the company hierarchy talks to someone high on the hierarchy. For example, a junior may send an email to a manager, updating them about a problem. Filling out surveys and templates also counts as upward communication.
Downward Business Communication
Downward communication occurs in the opposite direction. A manager may email someone in their department, or a CEO may send a report to all company employees.
Lateral Business Communication
Lateral communication occurs between two employees at the same level. It can occur within a department or across departments. You can also consider conversations between employees and customers as lateral business communications.
All three forms of communication should be respectful. However, lateral communication can be a little more informal than upward communication.
Managers engaging in downward communication should assert their authority, but they should not be condescending or unreasonable. Instead, they should delegate effectively, assigning tasks to people based on their skills and experience.
2. Foster a Positive Attitude
When you are communicating with someone, you should come off as positive. Ask yourself what you can do to help this person, and think about how you can use your skill set to build a stronger connection with them.
Your voice should sound energetic, yet you should adjust your tone to reflect the situation. If an employee compliments on something, you should pitch your voice up and thank them to show that you appreciate what they are saying.
3. Select the Right Channels
Communication in business can take place through any channel. However, some channels are more appropriate than others on certain occasions.
Emails, text messages, and phone calls are fine for short messages. Most lateral communications take place through emails. For example, an employee may need something from someone else quickly, so they can write a short email.
Slack and intranet are also fine tools. You can use them to organize departments and set meetings.
Downward and upward communication can use the same channels. But it may be better to use face-to-face conversations to discuss serious topics like someone’s job performance.
Communication with clientele should center around face-to-face talks. This lets the client feel respected and connected with the company.
When marketing, you can use many services online to communicate with others. LinkedIn is a great tool for professionals and conservative companies. You can also start a blog or website.
Internet marketing tends to be more informal than other forms of marketing. This can reinvent your brand and help you appeal to younger people.
4. Think About the Emotional Impact
Business communication skills center around emotional intelligence. You should respect other people’s emotions and know how to express yourself. You should also notice when your colleague or client is having problems and reach out to them.
Before you communicate with someone, think about how they will respond to what you are saying. If you may make the situation worse, you should not communicate with them. You can hire someone with good emotional intelligence skills to discuss the situation with your employee.
You should also pick words that are reflective of the situation. For example, do not make a joke or adopt a light tone when addressing a serious subject.
5. Focus on Solving Problems
When you are dealing with a problem, you should be even-keeled. Do not blame people or get angry.
Instead, think about how you can solve the problem. Problem-solving can begin with asking for details about what is going on. Identify and analyze the issue, then brainstorm a few solutions.
Ask everyone you are communicating with for suggestions. Then, take notes on what they are saying and evaluate what solution is best.
Then implement the solution that seems most appropriate. Finally, keep in touch with the person who reached out to you and see if the problem has been solved. After the problem has passed, think about what you can do to avoid similar problems. Problem-solving is a key skill of effective communication.
6. Tell Stories
Telling stories is a great communication method and can help in a number of areas. When delivering a speech, you should start your remarks with an anecdote. The anecdote can establish the themes of your speech and create an emotional connection with your audience.
When you are talking about solving a problem, you can make an analogy to a similar issue in your life. This can inspire the person you are talking with to devise a solution. It also establishes that you have dealt with similar situations and can overcome another one.
Your advertisements and marketing materials should have narratives in them. You can start an ad with a common problem your customers deal with. You can then show a customer using your product and solving the problem.
7. Be Efficient
You do not have to communicate with someone for a long period of time. If you are only talking to someone to ask them a question, ask them the question right away.
You can streamline communications by going through any document you write and cutting out details that are not necessary. This includes individual words like adjectives and adverbs. See if you can find interesting verbs and nouns to replace those words.
Remove all filler and hedging words from your speech. They can be distracting or overly informal, especially when you are delivering a presentation.
It is okay to make small talk, as long as you are purposeful in what you are saying. You should start with an icebreaker and then move on to establish common ground with the person you are speaking with.
8. Use Appropriate Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal cues are some of your most effective business communication tools. They can give visual information to people who don’t understand what you are saying. Nonverbal communication can also help to form an emotional connection with your audience, making you a more credible speaker.
You should always make eye contact with someone you are speaking with.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Stand up straight and put your center of balance between your two feet. Never slouch your shoulders, bend over at the waist, or bend your knees.
Use your hands meaningfully. You should only make a gesture when you want to underscore something. Jabbing your finger in the air over and over can be distracting.
When you make gestures, try not to be too aggressive. Do not point into the audience with one finger or run toward them. When you want to gesture into the crowd, use an open palm.
9. Listen Actively
You should engage in active listening whenever you are speaking with someone, regardless of their place in the company. Being an active listener means that you are maintaining eye contact with someone when they are talking. You can nod, smile, give nonverbal communication cues or use other body language to show you agree with them.
You can also take notes on what they are saying. But make sure you are looking at them as they are talking. You may want to ask for their permission to take notes first.
Once they’re done speaking, you should tell them what you heard. You can paraphrase or summarize what they said, but you should focus on the big picture and not on small details
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10. Be Confident
It is okay to be a little nervous when you are speaking in public. But you should come off as confident whenever you are delivering a speech or presentation.
Slow down and do not speak faster than you are thinking. If you need a moment to collect yourself, you should take that moment.
Make sure you don’t come off as overconfident. You can acknowledge your vulnerability by telling a story of a time when you did something wrong. You can also seem humble by complimenting someone else for their work.
11. Get Creative
The more ideas you have, the more ways you can effectively communicate with others. Spend time every day enjoying creative works like literature and music. You can cultivate creativity in the workplace by hanging up works of art and playing music.
When you encounter a problem, think about it from an outsider’s perspective. This can help you come up with new ideas to overcome the problem.
Whenever you speak or write, you should use creative language. Change up your sentence structures and incorporate inventive words into your work to grab your reader’s attention.
Final Thoughts: Understanding the Essentials of Business Communication
Business communication takes place all day, every day. Whenever you talk to someone, you should find the right channel and consider their emotions. Focus on solving a problem or telling a story that can motivate them.
Do not waste your listener’s time. Use nonverbal communication cues to help them understand something, and try out active listening skills, so they know you’re paying attention. Come off as confident and creative through a good posture and interesting language.