Business communication is a complex thing. Communication as a concept means far more than just a message or a conversation. It means the mutual understanding of the subject matter and therefore, in business, communication is most imperative to get right. Everything in the workplace is dependent on good communication across teams and individuals, from the planning stages of any activity right through to the reporting of its success.
Within organisations there is a constant flow of information, from clients to suppliers, from agencies to internal departments. Everything these days seems to require feedback and sign off, meaning the number of people involved in any single project can be very large. There are also various levels of seniority, and different hats you must wear when engaging with any individual involved in a project. The way you manage your business communication should adapt and differ depending on who it is you’re attempting to communicate with, and what their aims for the project happen to be. It is imperative that you communicate effectively within a business environment to ensure not only efficient use of your time, but also to avoid misunderstandings and the mistakes associated with miscommunication.
In contrast to personal communication, business communication always comes with an end goal. There is a certain amount of regulation associated with communication within the work place, and rules that each company put into place in order to establish good business practice. Previously, business communication was limited to telephone conversations and paperwork, however now there are far more channels of communication including email, video conferencing and instant messaging.
Understand the unique skill of business communication as we break down the key concepts
There are two main types of business communication that incorporate all of the different communication channels: written communication and oral communication. Oral communication covers things such as meetings, informal chats, telephone conversations, group discussions and interviews. Written communication includes emails, instant messages, reports and documentation.
Other forms of oral communication include speeches, presentations and pitches, all of which require an array of different business communication skills. The key things that you need to be aware of when communicating orally is that it is imperative that you build a good rapport and trust with whomever you happen to be communication with.
The advantages of oral communication are that it is easier to get your point across as you are able to use the intonation of your voice, and express emotion accordingly to be transparent about what you’re looking to get from the conversation. You’re less likely to be misunderstood when communicating orally, as there’s more flexibility and you can open up dialogue and discussion with the other person involved to invite them to ask questions to get a more thorough understanding.
The other main benefit of oral communication is the element of efficiency. Time-saving is highly beneficial in the work place, especially if there are tight timeframes associated with the work you are carrying out, and oral communication offers you the ability to receive decisions quickly or instantaneously, without the need for delay. It also offers benefits of privacy and confidentiality when talking about sensitive issues, and can help to diffuse situations where there is tension.
The downside of oral communication means there is no official record of what has been said, and you open yourself up to being interpreted solely by someone else’s notes at a later date. Although there is an element of time saving with oral communication, there are instances where it is detrimental to efficiency, including when meetings run on and conversations become too anecdotal. In every business there is the chance of legal action needing to be taken further down the line if contracts are broken or ethics come into question, and oral communication cannot be used for legal documentation.
Written business communication also has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages of written communication are that it creates a permanent record of intent and actions, and can be relied upon in case something is forgotten. It allows for clear delegation of responsibility that is unlikely to be misinterpreted as it is both explicit and direct. Legally, written communication can be relied upon as it provides valid records of communication.
The disadvantages of written communication are that it costs organisations money. Stationery, electricity, technology, internet, email service providers and postage are just a few of the costs associated with written communication in the workplace. It also does not guarantee an immediately spontaneous response, which can mean that the initial response to a question or situation is more calculated making it less easy to judge a genuine initial reaction. It also is less time efficient when you have to wait for a response to an email or for a letter to reach you via post.
Effective business communication requires a specific skill set and the ability to be competent in language and vocabulary. Lack of proper writing skills from an employee can have a negative impact on a business’ image, so it is imperative that you’re able to communicate effectively when writing. It is not easy to balance your communication skills between getting your point across and acting professionally, whilst bearing in mind that you need to be as direct and efficient as possible to get the job done.
If you’re looking to develop your business communication skills to a more professional level, or if this is a service you think would be beneficial to your employees, be sure to take a look around our website to better understand how we can help you to achieve this.