“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This quote by famous American author Helen Keller summarizes the importance of teamwork perfectly. While teamwork plays a role in every aspect of our lives, it is very important in the workplace. And one factor that can make or break teams is effective business communication.
Effective business communication is essential for organizations, especially in this digital age. It helps build teamwork, aids collaboration, boosts productivity, and ensures that organizations meet their goals.
What is business communication?
The word ‘communication’ is derived from the Latin word, ‘communis’, which means common. Communication means to tell, share or spread information. Management gurus W.H. Newman and C.F. Summer define communication as an exchange of facts, opinions, ideas, or emotions between two or more persons.
Communication is a two-way process. It’s an ever-evolving systematic process that involves speaking, listening, and understanding. It could be verbal, nonverbal, or digital communication.
Business communication typically includes everything from making or reading reports, giving instructions, ideating, making suggestions, and even the way you feel about things. According to psychological experts, people make most decisions based on how they feel and accordingly voice their opinions in team meetings.
The need for business communication
People often associate business communication with conversations with clients and stakeholders. But look closely, and you will find it in project discussions and even the emails you write daily to your coworkers. That’s how employees and the management interact to reach organizational goals.
Efficient business communication can clear misconceptions, reduce errors, and improve organizational productivity and performance. With better conversational harmony, managers can easily present business ideas and technical information, which can help employees feel confident and encouraged to give clear and honest feedback.
Features of business communication
Let us look at some features of business communication:
Effective business communication considers all the practical aspects of any information. It helps facilitate a clear understanding of any topic and avoids impractical and unnecessary information.
“It is the absence of facts that frightens people,” said novelist Hilary Mantel. No doubt, business information contains a lot of facts and figures. Including the right points and pertinent facts in your workplace conversation will undoubtedly make it more meaningful and effective.
Any communication is always received well and is successful when it includes the objectives of the targeted audience. For example, a speech on career opportunities will strike the right chord with graduating students.
Clear and Brief
Salim Khan, the famous Bollywood scriptwriter, once said that a good story is easily understood by the common man. That’s true for business situations as well. People appreciate simple, clear, and brief communication. Business communication that is free of jargon and obscure technical language is more effective.
Efficient business communication easily achieves the goal of persuading people. For example, a motivational speech by a CEO can encourage the employees to put in their best. Or an articulate salesperson will have no trouble persuading a customer to buy a product or service.
Importance of business communication
Helps technological advancement
In today’s fast-paced world, success is often dependent on technology. The popularity of celebrities is based on their number of followers on social media, while that of a newly launched product or service largely depends on its acceptance in the digital world.
One thing that works to gain more followers or to sell products or to strengthen a brand is effective communication.
Channels competition properly
Neck-on-neck competition is not unheard of at corporates, but it is because of effective business communication that it doesn’t spin out of control and become ugly. Given that professional corporate spaces only entertain information and factual data, and not baseless accusations, sharing or receiving information becomes the key. Clear and effective communication can clear the decks for this.
Top business communication skills
The main business communication skills are as follows:
A study by the University of Missouri a few years ago said that most people spend 30% of their working hours speaking. This fact highlights the importance of verbal communication at workplaces. It’s among the easiest ways of sharing ideas, opinions, and feelings with others.
But given the shrinking attention spans, the only way to ensure that your message is well received or understood is to be clear, concise, and specific.
How do you do that? The GRT —Goal, Recipient, and Tone—Framework in Harappa Education’s Writing Proficiently course can show you the way. It tells how to establish a goal, recognize the recipient, and strike the right tone for effective communication.
These three elements bring clarity and make your writing more effective. The first step to effective writing is to identify the goal of your communication. But having a goal isn’t enough; you also need to know your recipient.
And finally, the tone of your communication is important because writing doesn’t happen in real-time. The recipient of your communication can’t see you. It’s important to be confident, but not overconfident; be polite and sincere; emphasize your key points, and be respectful. In general, in written business communication, it’s also good practice to be empathetic.
While speaking constitutes a large part of our work lives, listening takes the larger pie. It is estimated that one spends about 45% of their working hours listening to others. But does that make one a good listener? Not necessarily.
Listening is more than paying attention to what others are saying. It’s also about noticing the body language of the speaker to gauge their emotional state. For instance, eye contact with the audience can establish that the speaker is confident and knows her subject well. A speaker who slouches and avoids making eye contact, however, may be judged as being less confident or even uninterested in giving a speech.
While you are in listening mode, you should practice avoiding interrupting the speaker. This will help show that you are focused and interested in what the other person is saying. Short interjections such as “yes” or “I see” will help the person know that they are being heard.
Emails, reports, and presentations are usually an integral part of our professional lives. And however daunting it may seem, having written business communication skills is essential today. They can prove more effective than verbal skills, as the wrong word, even though unintentional, stays in the records for a longer period.
Thus, it’s crucial to treat electronic and manual written communication more formally. Many organizations have set structures for reports, presentations, and even email conversations with clients. This makes it easier for employees to draft documents clearly and concisely.
But there are certain things you should keep in mind. While a warm and friendly tone is appreciated, being over-friendly can sound awkward. Harappa Education’s Writing Proficiently course explains in detail how you should conduct written communication, with real-life examples.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself before sending across a communication, to ensure you don’t slip up.
- Is it respectful?
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
Interpersonal communication skills
If teamwork is the heart of any organization, strong interpersonal skills are the blood flowing in it. Strong interpersonal communication skills allow employees to find common ground, understand others’ points of view, and show empathy. The result: a strong bond among the team members.
As the famous American baseball player, Babe Ruth, once said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
How to improve business communication skills
Few people possess and effectively use business communication skills. But with practice, you can certainly master these skills over time. Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively and Writing Proficiently courses will help learn and hone and your communication skills through experienced corporate professionals and industry experts. Identify your weak spots, create a plan, and work with the experts at Harappa. Good luck!