The term ‘global village’ is often used to describe the way technology has enabled us to communicate with others all across the planet. Living in this connected world makes good communication more important than ever, in personal as well as business relationships.
Differing backgrounds, cultures and perceptions can all impact on our ability to communicate effectively and can lead to serious misunderstandings and misinterpretations. To provide an example, what we consider normal behaviour in the western world could be misconstrued as rudeness when negotiating business deals in China.
However, even at a more local level, misunderstandings can occur between managers and employees, sales staff and customers, and between colleagues or associates in the business world. This means when operating a business, you really need the right skills to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people.
Types and features of business communication
Communication comes in a number of forms. The essence of communication is the relaying of a message with its intent being understood by the receiver. Types of communication include:
- Verbal – such as conversations either face-to-face or over the telephone.
- Written – includes emails, eFax (if you’re wondering how to send a fax online, it’s easy with a virtual fax number), letters, social media, memos, and online forums.
- Body language – for example facial expressions, tone of voice and hand gestures, which can all add to the meaning of the message.
- One-way communication – such as relaying information about your product either through online or printed marketing materials. This type of communication can enable a business to attain sales conversions and to reach goals and targets.
- Two-way communication – occurs where two parties interact with each other. Examples might include where customers interact on a company’s social media page, or were sales staff converse with customers. Again this type of communication can impact on sales conversions in business.
- Listening – this one can be seriously overlooked in communications! Good listening is essential for instance when attempting to understand what customers need, or when dealing with employee problems. In a business, listening also involves being open to feedback, complaints, reviews and ideas.
Why good communication is important
There are number of potential problems which can result from poor communication. These include:
- Missing deadlines on projects.
- Misunderstanding work instructions.
- Customers not receiving what they expected.
- Emails or memos getting misunderstood due to lack of visual clues and tone of voice.
- Marketing materials giving out the wrong message and leading to customer disappointment.
- Employees leaving the organisation in frustration.
Business communication tips
- Practice courteousness and respect – this should always be practiced in your business and modelled from the top.
- Practice empathy – involves putting yourself in the shoes of the person you are attempting to communicate with, at least as much as possible. This means you might need to vary your style or method according to how the other person best processes information.
- Keep it simple – in business communication, it’s important to avoid jargon and verbosity. Use clear language and as few words as possible, and get to the point fairly quickly without appearing abrupt.
- Attentive listening – involves maintaining eye contact, keeping an open mind, and not interrupting. In some cases, it may also involve repeating the words back to the speaker to ensure you have understood properly. In online conversations, it involves reading what has been written more than once and asking for confirmation if required.
You might also want to consider communications skills training in your business to improve communication effectiveness, and to enhance relationships in your workplace and with your customers and other stakeholders.
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