How You Can Become a Better Business Communicator
As human beings, communication is a part of our everyday lives. The ability to communicate effectively however, does not come as easily to us. Effective communication is one of the most important factors in business success. Communication is the essence of business, it is the foundation of managing staff, making sales, and conducting business affairs. The following steps serve as a guide for how you can become a better business communicator and work towards working more effectively.
Ask the right questions
A large component of success is understanding the needs of your organisation and/or clients. In order to gain this knowledge, you must be able to ask questions which can help you to gain key details such as the goals that they are trying to achieve or issues that they are facing. If you are equipped with the right information, you can then work out how you are going to do what is required of you. Asking the correct questions comes down to applying analytical skills and asking further questions when necessary. Getting down to the ‘nitty gritty’ is important so everyone is clear on the project and no questions are left unanswered.
Seek and provide feedback
Feedback is a crucial component of the success of a project as well as in the evaluation of results. If you are in a managerial role, regularly providing feedback to employees helps to keep the lines of communication open, and allows them to seek clarity and guidance. As an employee, seeking feedback can help with ensuring you are going in the right direction, and helps to gain a different perspective. Feedback can be provided in a number of settings – these can include formal surveys, informal meetings, in day-to-day conversations and at the completion of a project.
Address issues with diplomacy
Problems within a workplace, whether they are between colleagues or are associated with a project, should not be ignored. Analysis of the issue must be conducted and then a plan should be formulated to resolve the issue. Addressing issues with diplomacy shows your organisation or client that you are willing to face problems, and that you are committed to the success of the project. Ignoring them on the other hand shows that you are not willing to take responsibility for your actions, and are not interested in the success of your work. Diplomacy ensures that every angle is looked at and no one feels that their issues were overlooked throughout the process.
Communicate with confidence
Whether it is a formal networking opportunity, an important meeting or when interacting with fellow colleagues – communicating with confidence is crucial. You must learn to articulate your words correctly, and use body language which supports confidence. Examples of this include using a firm handshake, smiling, and making eye contact when communicating in person. This allows you to be a better business communicator as confidence ensures colleagues and clients that you believe in your abilities and have the skillset to get the job done to a high standard.
Perfect your writing skills
The minor aspects of business communication such as email etiquette and sending letters should not be overlooked. Having great spelling and grammar will always allow you to be a better business communicator – poor skills in these areas can make you look unprofessional and uneducated when communicating with colleagues and clients. Ways in which you can improve your writing skills include reading widely to gain a good vocabulary and always double checking spelling if you are in doubt. If you find you are continually spelling a word incorrectly, write it down and keep a list near your computer so you can refer to it when necessary.
Respect cultural differences
It is important to remember that every culture has its own unique mannerisms and interpretations. When communicating with those from cultures different to your own, you must be culturally sensitive and aware of how certain words and gestures may be interpreted. Within the workplace, an environment which is understanding of and respectful to all cultures and religions is necessary. When conducting business with internationally based organisations, research should be conducted prior to meetings to learn of any greeting customs or culturally sensitive issues which could hinder your progress.
Listen – don’t just hear
Effective communication is not just talking and writing – listening is also a very important component. In any facet of business, you should take the time to listen to the opinions, feedback and advice of others. Your solution or way of doing something may not always be the best option, so be prepared to consider the perspective of others. Peter Drucker once said (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/peterdruck142500.html) ‘the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said’. Otherwise explained, a good communicator will really listen to what a person is saying, and get to the bottom of the problem by paying detailed attention to their answers.
What do you think?
Do you have any tips that you could add to the list? What is the best piece of advice you could share with readers when it comes to communicating in a business context? I am interested to hear of your experiences and views so please feel free to share them below!
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Brainy Quote; How Stuff Works; and Noupe.