Knowing how you communicate helps you understand yourself and others better while making you a more effective and productive interactor in the world.
- What is Business Communication?
- Why is Communication in Business Important?
- Types of Business Communication
- Communication Styles
- Business Communication Skills
What is Business Communication?
Business communication refers to any communication that goes on within a professional setting. This includes presenting information in meetings, brainstorming in a team, or problem solving with your coworkers.
Why is Communication in Business Important?
Whether you are a large or small business owner, good communication is always good for business. Effective business communication can also help with employee engagement.
A survey was done with 400 different companies and 100,000 total employees, and they found that each company lost an average of $62.4 million in profits because of poor communication. That’s a lot of lost profits all because of bad communication. But these losses can be easily prevented by taking the time to learn about how you and those around you communicate.
Types of Business Communication
By understanding the different types of communication you can know better how to utilize the different communication forms to your advantage. There are 2 primary forms of communication, verbal and nonverbal. Verbal is going to include talking out loud to each other, whether in person, on the phone, or over a video call. Nonverbal includes body language and writing.
Verbal communication is the standard face to face type of communication. It can also be communicating through things like conference calls or a phone call. Choose your words and tone of voice wisely and appropriately for the person and the situation. Don’t use terminology they won’t understand, and don’t overload them with lots of verbal information all at once. We tend to only remember the last parts of what we hear, so either make that the most important thing, or include note taking.
The trick to verbal communication is taking the other person’s perspective into account so that they will understand your words as you intend them. This is why reading articles like this one, to understand others better, is paramount to becoming an effective communicator.
Body language is all about how you physically present yourself, and what others can observe or assume from your outer appearance and demeanor. Our facial expressions can also offer subtle cues to an observer of what we’re thinking or feeling. If you want to seem open and confident, don’t cross your arms over the front of your body, practice good back posture, make eye contact, and dress appropriately for how you wish to be received.
One form of communication you may need to be familiar with in your job is technical communication.
Technical communication can be when you need to talk about technology or other specialized subjects in your field.
It can also be when you use technology, like slides, to communicate effectively.
And finally, technical communication can also be when you need to communicate instructions. Giving instructions comes with it’s own set of rules and guidelines so that you can be clear when offering a step by step process.
In many professional fields employers and employees alike will need to have a measure of skill utilizing technical communication in order to effectively share information in their area of expertise.
Multiple researchers have attempted to categorize communication types into 4 or 5 main groups, but the truth is, communication is such a vast and complicated aspect of human interaction that truly defining it into a handful of categories is near impossible. For the sake of simplicity we will divide communication styles into 2 sections that can often overlap.
People who base their communications in logic can get a bad rap from other people for being heartless or cold. But details and figures are just the way they best understand the world around them, just as an emotion-based communicator make sense of the world through their intuition. Logical communicators are a major asset to your business as they will keep your projects focused.
- Focus on facts, numbers, data
- They make their decisions based on figures rather than how they feel about the choices
- They are great researchers
- Detail oriented
- They like the process of things and breaking large tasks into small ones
Emotional communicators like to rely on their intuition to make decisions. They make sense of the world around them through their instincts and emotions. Emotional communicators can be a great asset in connecting your business to your customers and creating the kind of environment that welcomes consumers and coworkers alike.
- Rely on intuition, instinct, gut feelings
- Focus on the big picture goal or main idea of what you want to accomplish
- They are often creative and good at brainstorming
- They care about human connection and thus have strong interpersonal skills
- They are often the diplomatic peacekeepers in their group
Passive communicators don’t communicate very well. They are the people who go with the flow. If you have a peacekeeper personality you might be guilty of being a passive communicator. They have trouble expressing themselves, or voicing their own opinions and feelings.
This kind of communication is a problem because it can lead to a build up in stress and it keeps you from offering your insights. It can also lead to misunderstandings in communication because others are forced to assume your thoughts or stance on things rather than hearing it from yourself.
The benefit of a passive communicator though, is that they are great listeners and can be great confidants and peacekeepers in the office.
Aggressive communicators are the opposite of passive communicators. They are on the other side of the spectrum, where they always say what’s on their mind. They are often described as demanding, authoritarian, and dominate and control the conversation.
The problem with aggressive communicators is they can be seen as rude, have a hard time listening or letting others get a word in edge-wise.
But the benefit of aggressive communicators is that they can make great leaders and get things done. They aren’t afraid to delegate.
Passive aggressive communicators are inwardly aggressive communicators, and outwardly passive. They have so much they want to say, but never do, whether out of fear or a lack of control. But their aggressive communicator side breaks free in subtle ways, but the communication is never completely clear or direct.
The most ideal form of communication is assertive. When you are an assertive, you communicate openly without dominating the conversation too much. Assertive communicators have found the balance between passive and aggressive communicating.
They know when to listen, and when to speak up.
If you are interested in finding out what type of communication style you naturally favor, you can take this communication style quiz from glassdoor.
Business Communication Skills
Now that you have a better understanding of the types and styles, we can move on to the techniques you can use to better your communication practices.
Don’t be afraid of silence
You can learn a lot from silence. Silence gives the other person in the conversation full opportunity to finish their thoughts, or add important details. This way you don’t miss any important contributions the other person might have.
Being comfortable with silence will also help people feel more comfortable and at ease conversing with you because it teaches you to be a less nervous conversationalist if you’re not worried about filling silence.
Learning to ask the right questions can be the key to really effective communication. Asking questions also shows you have personal interest in the topic or people a part of the conversation.
Being learned will help you to have more meaningful conversations, and it will make you a more helpful asset in general in your workplace.
Manage your stress
Nothing leaves you more muddled in the head than when you’re stressed out. When you manage your stress properly, your mind will be clear, focused, and you’ll be better able to make decisions and think clearly.
Avoid filler words
Filler words are any words, phrases, or sounds that get used too often in speech. Many times filler words are subconsciously used to fill pauses in between thoughts. Becoming comfortable with silence will also help you with this communication technique.
Some examples of filler words include: um, like, uh, ah, ok, you know, yeah.
Learn and use people’s names
People really appreciate it when their names get used and remembered. By putting forth an effort to learn and use names you’ll make a friendly and amiable impression on anyone you meet. Showing that you can remember names also shows those around you that you have a good memory.
Use “I” statements
Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is a great communication tactic. Using “you” in your speech can sometimes come off as demanding, or accusatory, which will cause others to clam up or get on the defensive when talking to you. So rephrase your speech to avoid using “you” too much so that you don’t come across as accusing.
For some other tips and tricks to communicating effectively, check out a business communication PDF:
- Business Communication
- Effective Communication
- Skills for Effective Business Communication: Efficiency, Collaboration, and Success
Communication is a giant part of good business. At your job you’ll need to brainstorm, work in groups, and solve problems by communicating effectively with your coworkers, subordinates, and superiors.
If you need help finding a career first read, “How to Choose a Career.”
If you need even more tips for great communication read, “What is Communication?”
Read a book all about technical communication, Technical Communication: a reader-centered approach
Check out this business communication book, Speak with No Fear