In the business world, communication can be everything. For companies to grow and succeed, they need to communicate effectively with both employees and customers. Ensuring a solid communication strategy is critical, no matter what line of business you have.
Below are some of the best practices to have effective business communication.
What is business communication?
Business communication refers to all forms of communication that take place within the organization and its external partners and customers.
The main types of business communication
There is no single way to communicate within an organization. Let’s discuss the four major types of business communication. Understanding each type will help you determine which communication approach is the most suitable for your organization.
This type of business communication involves transferring information from lower levels of a hierarchy to the upper levels. Because lower-level employees can directly communicate with the upper management, bottom-up communication encourages a participative work culture.
On the other side of the coin, the accuracy of information provided by employees might be limited, depending on their comfort level and communication skills. For effective bottom-up communication, managers should engage employees in regular conversations, listen to their concerns, and use multiple channels to ensure accessibility for all.
The direct opposite of bottom-up communication. Information flows from the upper levels of the organizationalhierarchy down to the employees. Top-down communication provides certain advantages like organizational discipline, efficiency, and ease of delegation. However, the transfer of information can be slow, since it comes from multiple levels of hierarchy. To ensure effective top-down communication, leaders should be visible and approachable.
Lateral communication takes place between members who are at or about the same hierarchical level. Compared to the previous types, lateral communication is usually less structured and can happen in various forms, from telephone calls to emails, memos, video-conferencing, and more.
Lateral information makes collaboration and information sharing easy. It's highly beneficial for large-scale enterprises that greatly depend on interdepartmental coordination. Effective lateral communication is supported by project management tools that ensure the transfer of information.
External communication occurs between a company and its suppliers, clients, customers, suppliers, government officials, etc. When done properly, it has a positive impact on the company's reputation. When communicating with customers or other organizations, it’s important for an organization to have solid InternalCommunication – one wrong piece of data can have a lasting impact on a company's reputation.
Why is communication important in business?
Effective business communication can affect every aspect of an organization. Comms wear many hats in the organizational context, and here are some of the most important ones:
Helping organizations set clear goals and expectations
Fostering seamless transition from one project to the next
Improving customer service
Generating innovative ideas. When employees are given the opportunity to share their feedback, thoughts, and ideas, the organization can address issues effectively.
The 7 C's of business communication
Whether you're communicating with your team in person, via email or virtual conferencing, you can ensure effective communication by applying the 7 Cs of communication.
Clarity: Practicing clarity when communicating, such as using language that can be easily understood, ensures that the message transferred is accurate.
Correctness: Grammar, language, data, and other aspects aid in clarity. Make sure to proofread your content before sending.
Conciseness: Concise messages are easily understood. Avoid using more words than necessary.
Courtesy: Courtesy helps you earn the trust of others, and gets them to listen to what you're trying to say.
Concreteness: Keep it short and concise – nobody wants to read a novel to get to the point. Bonus points for using facts and figures to add authenticity.
Consideration: When crafting your message, try to put yourself in the position of the recipient. How should you deliver the message in a way that they will clearly understand?
Completeness: The message should be complete. Provide all facts and details so the recipient can make an informed decision.
What are the characteristics of effective business communication?
Businesses revolve around successful communication, whether it's verbal, non-verbal, or written. Effective communication in organizations has the following characteristics:
Proactive participation: Good communicators proactively seek opportunities to express their opinions, feedback, and knowledge.
Listening: Good communicators don't just keep talking. They listen too. They pay attention to the person speaking, process the information, and understand its context.
Learning from others: effective communication in business involves sharing strategies and knowledge that everyone can use to improve their own skills.
How to communicate effectively in business
Assumptions can lead to faulty outcomes and wrong decisions. When you assume that your understanding of something is right without verifying or clarifying information, you might end up working with distorted or incomplete pictures.
It's very important to avoid making assumptions when communicating. Check out these strategies:
Be informed. Do your research to gain a full understanding of what you are trying to communicate. If you're the receiver, make sure to ask and clarify points you don't quite understand.
Be specific. Vague communication can lead to false assumptions.
Keep an open mind. Countering personal biases can be tough but it can be learned.
Find a good time for the conversation to take place
As companies transition to remote work, it has become more challenging for teams to communicate effectively. Aside from distractions, remote employees are confronted with technical difficulties, time zone conflicts, and a whole lot more issues.
When dealing with important matters, you need to find a good place and time to talk. Whether you’re conducting the meeting online or face-to-face, agree on a time and place for everyone to participate. Have a regular structured meeting to support communication.
Invest in business communication tools
The changing landscape of the business world has made communication a lot more complex. Good thing the technology is quick to adapt. Since the pandemic started, many tools have surfaced to enable organizations to communicate easily. Nonetheless, it’s important to choose the business tools that match the needs of your organization:
Look for an all-in-one solution so you won't have to install different tools that can be confusing and inconvenient
Security is key. Invest in intranetsoftware that lets you create a secure network that can only be used or accessed by your employees.
Analyze the features. See if they fit the specific needs of your team.
Ensure it's cost-effective.
Listen more and talk less – as simple as that. Failing to listen is the biggest communication killer. Listening can help improve productivity and provide better insights into various matters.
Asking questions is crucial in so many ways. By throwing the right questions, you get valuable feedback, show the other person that you're listening, and confirm understanding of the issue.
Combined with effective listening, asking questions can be powerful in business communication. Asking the right questions can help you improve a whole range of communication skills. For example, you can get better information, learn more, build stronger relationships, and manage your people more effectively.
Deliver effective visuals
Clothing conveys nonverbal clues about your personality and work ethic. When presenting before your team, clients, or in business meetings, carefully plan your wardrobe. Needless to say, it's important to dress for the occasion – consider what is appropriate for the event and the culture of your audience.
Whether it’s from your employees or customers, soliciting feedback makes you understand the big picture.
Keep the line open and encourage feedback from your team members, employees, customers
Provide opportunities for anonymous feedback
Gather feedback frequently
Hold "skip-level" communications
Follow through on feedback
Communication is key to business success. Consider incorporating these practices and give professional dedicated solution consultants a chance to walk you through their software and answer your questions.