AbleToTrain by Willing & Able

Tips for good business communication

Effective business communication is all about where, how, and when you communicate. To improve your communication abilities, try these seven suggestions.

Understand where and what to communicate

Face-to-face communication, email, instant messaging, and work management tools are all forms of communication. To be most effective, follow communication principles and communicate about the appropriate subjects in the right places.

Because your company may have multiple communication methods, understanding which one to employ is critical. Which tool is most suited to your query or comment? Is real-time communication required, or might an asynchronous message suffice? If you’re unsure, consult with a team member or management about where you should send certain types of messages. 

Improve your teamwork abilities

Effective teamwork is built on collaboration. You must practice open and honest communication in order to develop excellent team collaboration skills. This does not always imply always agreeing on everything; understanding how to disagree and work through differences is also an important component of collaboration.

Collaboration and communication abilities are a “chicken and egg” situation. You may foster successful cooperation by communicating effectively, but knowing how to collaborate is a prerequisite for effective communication. 

Simply said, this means you’ll have to work on developing your teamwork and communication abilities over time. As you get better at working together as a team, you’ll get better at sharing facts and points of view at work. This open communication will make working together feel more natural.

When possible, speak in person

Face-to-face communication is perhaps the most tried-and-true method of avoiding miscommunication. If your team is virtual, video conferencing can be used to communicate. Face-to-face communication is especially vital when you know the conversation will be difficult. Tone can be difficult to convey on paper, so let your team member see your facial expressions and body language.

If your team is dispersed or distant, interacting by phone call instead of video conference may be an option. Video conferencing fatigue is real, and it can make distant teams’ collaboration and communication especially tough. Talking on the phone takes some of the strain off of your eyes, but you can still hear your teammate’s voice and tone.

Take note of your body language and vocal tone

Communication is more than just what you say; it is also about how you express it. Make sure you’re not crossing your arms or sounding curt. Often, your body language has little to do with the scenario at hand—perhaps you’re fatigued or concerned about something in your personal life. 

However, your team colleagues, who may not be aware of the background, may interpret your actions as being angry or outraged about anything. Try to keep your body language and facial expressions calm, especially during hard conversations, so you don’t accidentally give anything away.

Make two-way communication a priority

Listening is equally as crucial as talking when it comes to business communication. Being a collaborative team member entails listening to other people’s ideas rather than just putting your own out there.

Listening can be divided into two types: listening to respond and listening to understand. When you listen to respond, you’re more concerned with what you’re going to say next than with what the other person is saying. You risk missing important information or even repeating what the other person just said if you listen in this manner.

Instead, attempt to listen to understand—that is, listen to what the other person is saying without considering how you will respond. If you have an idea for something to say, write it down so you can return to listening to comprehend rather than attempting to recall what you want to say next.

Stick to facts rather than stories

Assume your manager provides you with live feedback during a small team meeting. That is a proven fact. You weren’t expecting the feedback, and you suspect your manager shared it with you rather than saving it for your 1:1 because they are dissatisfied with your job. This is a “story” since you have no means of knowing whether or not it is true.

Check that you’re speaking to the correct person

Effective business communication is about who you talk to as much as what you say. Poor communication is common when you communicate with the wrong people or try to share knowledge in the wrong setting.

To avoid this, ensure that the appropriate people are present or receiving the message. If you’re not sure who that is, conduct an activity to identify any key project stakeholders that may be missing.