In the majority of professions, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial. Whether that communication is written, verbal, or even physical, you need to get your point across in a manner that has a positive outcome for you, your team or department, the person you’re dealing with, and the company or organization.
Communication at work happens all day long and with everyone we interact with. And effective and professional communication should in no way be just limited to your dealings with clients. You need to be able to relay a clear and direct message in a considerate and efficient way to vendors, suppliers, coworkers and employees too.
No matter whether you’re talking to a high level vendor partner or the guy that delivers the water bottles for the cooler, or your CEO or the office intern, everyone deserves the same respect.
Do YOU need to brush up on your communication skills at work?
Miscommunication caused by a lack of understanding or an inability to express a thought or idea succinctly can cause countless issues in the workplace. From personal grievances to missed deadlines and from flat out arguments to projects getting seriously derailed, making sure everyone is on the same page is crucial.
Miscommunication = misunderstanding. Don’t let the way you communicate derail your professional standing or your projects!
7 ways you can upgrade your business communications
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at seven ways you can make your business communications more…well, businesslike and successful!
Be clear and concise
Clarity is everything in successful communication. And it’s not always a done deal. Often, in a working environment, especially when discussing projects and expectations, things can take on a rather convoluted turn.
Check that the person you’re speaking with understands the brief or what is expected of them. And the same goes for you - not sure what someone is talking about? Ask them questions or politely ask them to be more specific.
Take notes if needed
Taking notes isn’t a sign of weakness - it’s a sign of being organized and someone who doesn’t like to leave things to chance! We’re humans - our memories are not infallible. When you take notes you have something to refer to in the event there is a miscommunication further down the line and can track back to what was actually said.
This is especially crucial when discussing projects and communicating with clients. And it will be made all the more easier if you get some form of technology involved so that your notes are clear, easy to read, and hopefully make sense!
Check back in with people
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because everything has been communicated once your work here is done! Maintaining some sort of regular contact with people you’re working with or for is just as important as the initial conversation.
There can be a tendency to make assumptions when interactions are kept to a minimum and we can all be guilty of it. We either don’t want to bother someone who we know is busy or we think we know exactly what’s needed. Whichever side of the fence you fall - the person giving or receiving instructions or information - make sure that the lines of communication are kept open.
Consider who you’re talking to
As we’ve covered, your business communications could be with anyone from your most important client to an officer supplier. We’re not suggesting you ‘dumb down’ for people who are not perceived as ‘high level’, but it is worth keeping in mind what the person you’re communicating needs to know and how you say it.
For example, an email to an investor, customer or stakeholder will need to be worded with care and precision whilst a quick memo to a colleague can be a lot more casual (in most business settings.) And that leads us on to…
Don’t pepper your communications with jargon
Unless it is absolutely necessary and industry specific. For example if you work in a sector that has a lot of niche wording, such as the maritime industry or in technology, you won’t be able to avoid using certain terms, words and acronyms. And that’s okay, because the people you’re emailing or talking to will most likely understand the terminology.
However, when speaking to someone who is not in your particular industry, or who is even in a different department, be careful that you’re not blinding them with science, so to speak. Simple, shorter words and sentences are more effective at getting a message across and if your vocabulary is tying people up in knots, that message is getting lost or diluted.
Choose how you deliver your information
In the modern workplace there are any number of ways to communicate: via email, by the team group Whatsapp, by company or department chats on platforms such as Zoom or Slack, by phone, and of course in person.
So that your message is conveyed effectively, you need to use the right tool for the job. The group text or messaging system chat will be fine for letting everyone know where happy hour drinks are on Friday but not quite as appropriate if you’re delivering news about end of quarter sales.
And watch your body language too!
Many sources cite that the percentage of nonverbal communication is 93%, with just the remaining 7% being verbal. This is a huge amount, and therefore clearly something we all need to be paying attention to, particularly when giving a presentation, while in a meeting with clients, when hosting weekly team meetings or…well just about any other situation really.
Make sure that your facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture are all aligning with the verbal message you are conveying. If they’re not, the person or people you’re speaking to will only end up confused - and your message will be lost.
For example, in some cultures, smiling is used to cover up embarrassment, however in the business environment you most likely work in, grinning your way through an apology would come off as insincere and, frankly, a little alarming.
Brushing up on your communication skills: conclusion
Many people fall into the trap of thinking that long sentences and words with as many syllables as possible are the means to effective communications, but actually, we don’t need to be stringing our coworkers, clients and suppliers along in this way.
Communication in business needs to be effective, not elaborate, for it to be successful. After all, we all have, or have had, that one person we deal with on a regular basis whose long winded verbal explanations or convoluted emails have us praying for the interaction to be over or reaching for the ‘delete’ button.
Don’t be that person!