Have you ever had a misunderstanding with someone, either in person or through a written conversation? Good communication is the sharing of clear information between two or more parties where it is received as intended. But in any conversation, there are plenty of ways to get off track and be misunderstood. So how does this affect a business?
Business communication encompasses many interactions. It can mean information shared within a company or with an external audience. It includes written communication like email, memos, and policies, and oral communication, like face-to-face conversations, presentations, and sales interactions.
When someone communicates with us verbally, we interpret their meaning by:
- 55% – Facial expressions and body language
- 37% – Tone of voice
- 8% – Words used
This makes verbal communication the best method for communication because so much more can be understood. We also use verbal communication in large groups like meetings. In fact, 50 percentof a senior manager’s typical workday is dedicated to meetings. However, verbal communication contains no “paper trail” and therefore is less reliable than written communication. It’s also not possible to always have all parties together face-to-face.
Written communication provides an official record of what is said, which is best for formal communication. However, it lacks the added benefits of analyzing facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice that are so useful in a conversation. Considering that 28 percent of each work day is dedicated to reading and responding to emails, that’s a lot of room for misunderstandings.
It’s critical to understand how to communicate because these skills have a major impact on your career. Without clear exchange of information, an entire business strategy could be lost. Internally, project outcomes depend on clear understanding of ideas and procedures. Customer service almost exclusively relies on effective communication. And employee relations can be damagedwithout steady, positive communication. Externally, an inefficient and confusing ad campaign can alienate potential customers and hurt sales. Vendor relationships can go awry, and collaborations can be ruined.
Businesses as small as 100 employees spend, on average, 17 hours a week clarifying previous communication, which translates to an annual cost of at least $525,000. To avoid such redundancy, here are some tips for improving business communication:
- Don’t assume. It’s best to clearly communicate all expectations so that everyone is on the same page.
- Find the best time, place, or technology to facilitate a meeting. Everyone involved needs to be free from distractions and if privacy is required, a safe space should be secured for discussions. If constant communication is needed, set up recurring meetings in a time and place that is convenient for all participants.
- Be sure to listen, not just There is a difference between just hearing what someone is saying and actively listening to what they need to convey. Don’t just spend their time waiting for your turn to talk. Be mindful and listen carefully, then proceed with your response.
- Ask appropriate questions. Clarification is always a good thing!
- Read—and convey—nonverbal cues when possible. Pay attention not only to the body language and facial expressions of your colleagues, but also to those you’re displaying.