5 Tips For More Effective Business Communication
In all business environments, communication is critical to everyday operations. In your own position, you may communicate with employees, customers, partners, suppliers and others daily.
Successful, positive communication can benefit you and your business tremendously, but the reverse is true as well. When you are not an effective communicator, you can damage important relationships, decrease productivity in your office, and even damage the reputation of your brand.
Here are five universal tips you can follow to improve all forms of communication with your professional contacts.
- Give everyone your full attention
Communication is a two-way process. The person talking or writing an email is trying to convey something, but communication is only effective when you are fully attentive and receive the message loud and clear. In a face-to-face conversation, such as during a job interview, you must listen attentively to what the other person is saying.
Typically, you will not get a second chance to understand what the person is communicating, so tune out your inner dialogue and devote your full attention to this person.
Moreover, your body language can tell the other person a lot about your interest in what they are saying, so always make eye contact and nod when appropriate. Maintain a confident posture. This can help you to establish trust with the person you are talking to, which is critical in conversations with colleagues, customers, and others.
If necessary, ask appropriate questions. This shows that you are interested, and it helps you to clarify the meaning of the conversation.
In written communication, full attention is necessary as well. You should fully absorb the meaning of the message, ask questions when necessary, and respond to indicate that you understand the message. Always determine what the other person is asking for, and act on it when possible.
- Always be respectful
It is easy to lose your cool in a heated business transaction, but always remain professional and respectful. Be careful not to come across as cocky or condescending: this can reflect poorly on you as well as on your business. Display good manners, and follow proper rules of etiquette when communicating with anyone.
Remember that every person you come in contact with should be treated with respect, and all customers, partners, and contractors should be treated equally.
It is also a sign of respect to respond to issues right away and to listen intently without interrupting another person. Even if an employee comes to you in an irate mood about a conflict with a co-worker, it is important for you to listen fully to the individual without interrupting. After that, calmly address the issue in an appropriate and respectful manner.
- Make yourself clear
Even the best communicators are misunderstood from time to time. The person receiving your message may misinterpret you because of a typo in your email message or because of a difference in context with an oral message. Always try to avoid such mistakes.
You should also avoid using industry lingo around those who will not understand it. Doing so can make you seem arrogant, and it creates misunderstandings. In both written and oral communications, be concise. When you talk for too long, the other person may tune out or lose interest.
When it comes to your website and social media accounts, make sure you convey clear and concise info: no one will stick around if you bore them with long content or technical jargon.
Also, be clear about your expectations. Vagueness can lead to employees following instructions erroneously, and it can even damage your business. Always tailor your messages to suit the person to whom you are speaking, so that they can understand your meaning clearly.
- Be both professional and friendly
Remember: in the business world, you need to be professional. This applies to the way you communicate. Avoid using filler words, such as “um”’ and “like” as these seem unprofessional in face-to-face conversations.
Take time to brush up on the details of a project or transaction before communicating, so that you can convey your message intelligently. If necessary, read up to be more knowledgeable about a topic.
Above all, be friendly and pleasant. Some people think that being professional means being allusive or even uppity. However, this can give off an arrogant vibe that turns people off.
Regardless of who you are talking to, strive to remain professional and friendly at the same time. Smiling and having a positive demeanor go a long way. This creates trust with those who you speak with, and it also reflects positively on your business or brand.
In addition, it is beneficial if you remember thoughtful details about people, such as a person’s favorite restaurant, an employee’s birthday and so forth. You’d be surprised how much people appreciate this.
- Keep communicating
The lines of communication should be kept open at all times, and this holds true when communicating inside your company as well as with partners and customers. To put it simply: keep communicating!
Inside your company, make an effort to regularly ask your employees for feedback about projects, strategies, and more. Encourage them to talk to you, and be receptive and appreciative of their ideas and suggestions. You can also promote inner-office communication through chat messages, department meetings, and other similar efforts.
If you work in a business with partners or fellow executives, make an effort to celebrate their achievements by taking them out to lunch. Send birthday and holiday cards as well as hand-written thank-you notes when they do something exceptional for you or your team.
With your customers, always respond to inquiries and concerns promptly. You can use technology to set up automated thank-you messages after a purchase and to ask for feedback about their experience with your company. All responses should be professional and timely.
You should also be responsive to other forms of communication from customers, such as voice messages, social media comments and more. Whatever you do, just keep the communication alive: it will pay off.
Communication may come naturally to some people, but for others, it requires hard work and focus to refine the skill. You can practice these tips regularly to improve your communication experience and to become a better communicator.
By doing so, your partners, customers, and employees will benefit in different ways. You may find that you have access to more opportunities, your employees can work more efficiently, and customers may do business with you again. The bottom line is that more effective communication can lead to business growth in various ways.
Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie