Five Key Business Communication Skills Needed In Today’s Workplace
Effective workplace communication is necessary to encourage a positive, productive atmosphere. Good business communications reduce stress and improve understanding to create open, inspirational environments – there’s always that one office star who just knows how to captivate any audience.
With customers, clients and colleagues (yes, even you – admit it!) hanging off their every word, great communicators are able to transmit points clearly, while listening and heeding audience views.So how do they do it?
1. Clarity and directness
Engaging business communications are reliant on quick, clear interactions which transfer information effectively.Considering a busy audience’s needs, direct communications which captivate attention – without being blunt – are key.
From presentations to emails, phone calls or face-to-face talks, clear, effective communications can be achieved if you:
- Plan and practice your main points.
- Structure what you have to say.
- Outline audience benefits without requesting much in return.
- Consider likely questions in advance.
- Keep it short.
- Be clear without being condescending.
- Try not to elaborate unnecessarily.
- Thank people for their time.
2. Active listening
Image credit sxc.hu/Bizior
Active listening, rather than passive staring (though the pigeons outside the window are interesting)means you heed what’s said, and convert points into actions and progress. Fitting under the umbrella of ‘audience consideration’, active listening displays interest, promotes interaction and encourages speakers to continue confidently with communications rather than rush.
- To encourage an active approach, visualise what’s being said. This improves your retention of information, and promotes interest.
- Write things down. From ideas to key themes, make notes (and occasional doodles) during calls and meetings to ascertain future actions.
- Use empathy to better understand your audience’s points and topical interest. You should also be empathetic when communicating yourself, and should do so in a manner which holds attention; if you think you’re boring your audience, change your approach!
- Team recognition. Observe how others interact, but keep a team approach as teamwork encourages a supportive, open environment. Listen to criticism and be sure to show appreciation and constructive criticism to others when due.
3. Non-verbal Communicativeness
Non verbal skills are crucial in face-to-face situations as before you’ve begun speaking, your appearance, body language – even your punctuality will communicate an impression of your professional capability. Being aware of this impression can sway situations in your favour.
- Appearance – Like secretly wearing great underwear, a professional exterior will provide confidence and support and allow you to command any situation whilst also looking capable. People are unlikely to listen if you don’t appear competent – a suit and tie can take you a long way in the right situations, so dress as you want to be perceived.
- Eye contact – In western societies, eye contact is a sign of interest, respect and understanding, so frequent eye contact should be maintained with other participants in any conversation.
- Posture and body language – Do you keep an open posture when you speak? Consciously putting your shoulders back, standing straight and uncrossing your arms will display confidence and inspire trust.
- Be aware of cultural reinterpretations – If you’re speaking to an international audience, remember that different values can apply to all non-verbal methods. That strong hand shake may be overly aggressive for example, or too much eye contact seen as rude. Research beforehand to avoid cultural blunders.
4. Patience and flexibility
Image credit sxc.hu/Bizior
Patience and flexibility display interest, provide clarity and encourage confident courteous interactions between colleagues and professional networks.A vital part of active listening, your patience (shown through non-verbal cues such as nodding) will encourage speakers, rather than cause them to rapidly skip information which could be useful. Patience and flexibility allow you to:
- Shape conversations to fit your needs (flexibility). If a point is confusing, question it. The speaker needs to know if you’re unsure, so explain your understanding to ensure it is correct. Don’t smile, nod, or leave without being sure – this will cause problems later on.
- Listen well (patience). Remaining attentive to others ensures they will do the same for you.
- Keep an open mind (flexibility). When listening to others, try not to dismiss any action or point – the more flexible you are, the higher the potential for opportunity. A rigid attitude is not conducive to productivity or positivity.
- Be open to all forms of communication (patience). You may not like using power points or social media but they may be necessary to convey all points to a particular audience. The more ideas and methods you are open to, the more effective your communications will be.
5. Communicative diversity
In the modern office, there is no universal way to communicate. Being equally proficient across a range of verbal, non-verbal, written and technological media is necessary for widespread success.
From email, to video calls and social media, solid technological understanding combined with good communicative conduct will be a distinct advantage.
Don’t be afraid to branch out and apply your new communications skills to a variety of different media – your proficiency and knowledge of the growing world of digital communications could be just the thing your next corporate role or task needs!