Are you wrestling with any of these issues?
- Team having communication issues at work?
- Unsure of how to talk to management?
- Or are you struggling to implement an improved communication strategy that gets everyone on the same page?
You’re not the only one. Understanding how to interact with coworkers and analyzing different workplace situations is a challenge for us all.
In the workplace, we tend to draw our own conclusions on what other people understand. Assuming this not only leads to a breakdown in the delivery of your message but also the interpretation on the receiving end.
When intent and understanding don’t align, this can spiral into greater workplace problems. Breakdown can also begin to occur with customers as well. To better avoid this, it is essential that we understand what effective business communication is and practice ways to improve things.
We’ve got a comprehensive guide to help you, your boss, and your coworkers with effective business communication skills in the workplace.
My book series Why Leadership Sucks, now with two volumes, will make you laugh and cry as I share the challenges of running a business, managing teams of people, and the communication necessary to lead well.
So let’s hop to a proper definition…
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What is Business Communication? A Definition
This can also include how a company shares information to promote its products and services to customers, but we are going to focus mostly on internal communication. which is the continuous transfer of information from all levels of an organization (top down and bottom up).
Utilizing positive business communication practices will only benefit your company in the long run. The key is to ensure that communication methods are consistent at all levels of the company so that there are no dissemination or misinformation gaps.
22 Top Tips for Effective Business Communication Skills in the Workplace
While there are an infinite number of approaches one can take when it comes to improving the communication at work, finding the one that works for you in a given situation can be a daunting task.
No matter what your company hierarchy (authoritarian leadership or servant leadership, it is important to improve your communication skills. Whether you are at the top or bottom of the totem pole, how you practice communication will be adopted by others you are in contact with on a regular basis.
Additionally, honing communication skills in a uniformed manner will allow all employees to be on the same page, and minimize the chance of misalignment and miscommunication.
Browse through these 22 stellar tips to become a more effective communicator in the workplace.
Preparation for a conference call begins long before you connect with the other party. Start by checking your technical setup and test your mic, speakers, and video cam before you begin the call as this decreases the likelihood that any technical issues will interrupt the call.
Next, ensure that your call is taking place in an area that avoids picking up any distracting sounds; you don’t want background noise to be picked up on the receiving end of your call.
Once you are on the call, be sure to pay close attention to those you are communicating with; before you begin to speak, always make sure that the other people on the line have concluded their thoughts.
2. Setting Rules for Messaging Platforms
When communicating with other employees via messaging platforms, it is important that you are just as professional as you would be in person. Text messages can remove some of the usual communication cues used when speaking to someone face-to-face. Not being able to read your body language or hear your tone of voice can make it more difficult for your message to be clearly understood.
Informal communication can result in an array of misunderstandings between you and another employee if not done properly. This is why it’s best to maintain professionalism as much as possible in your messaging communications. Unlike verbal communication, your written messages are permanent.
So, take the time to ensure that they are crafted in an acceptable and professional manner. You never know when they will be referenced again.
One of the biggest obstacles that employees face is not knowing how to communicate with managers and CEOs. They may not feel comfortable approaching the boss, and as a result of this apprehension, many employees may choose to avoid bringing up important points. This ends up blocking the flow of effective communication.
Having an “open door” policy, where your employees feel comfortable bringing anything to your attention at any time, can be immensely beneficial to your business’ internal communication. It is also a great way of motivating employees to be more involved in your organization.
4. Focus on Collaborating, Not Dominating Conversations
5. Identify & Reach out to Shy or Introverted Employees
No matter how you cut it, some people simply tend to be shy. Even if they’re adept at what they do.
Identifying and reaching out to shy employees can help break down the barriers of workplace communication they may have imposed on themselves.
Showing a genuine interest in this type of employee, and forming a better working relationship can allow for them to become more comfortable and open up. However, keep in mind that this can be a lengthy process, shyness doesn’t dissipate overnight!
6. Importance of Follow Up Cannot be Underestimated
Communication isn’t one-and-done. It is important to realize that effective communication won’t be accomplished by simply sending a message, and assuming the information will be received, understood, and acted upon.
Effective communication requires follow-through to ensure both understanding and action. This can be done in a variety of ways, including follow-up meetings, polls, surveys, and tracking interactions through online project management tools.
7. Change Up Your Office Space
If you’re working within a physical office, one of the best steps you can take to improve workplace communication is to evaluate the way it is designed. In this day and age, there are countless options for office setup and design. Traditionally, offices were designed for privacy and often were broken up with cubicles and partitions, making the work environment more private and secluded.
In more recent years, we have seen a shift in organizations adopting a more “open” concept design. An open floor plan eliminates nearly all physical barriers, and some argue that it encourages an increase in employee communication and collaboration. But in recent years, research has not supported the claims that open floor plans increase efficiency and communication, or lower working costs. Truthfully, it comes down to your specific organization and workforce preferences.
Not every office space is cohesive and can serve as a “one stop shop” for any organization.
- Does your the work you do require silence?
- Are opportunities for collaboration at a minimum intentionally? If so, an open work space is not likely going to help your people thrive. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are in constant communication with your team, eliminating physical barriers is probably in your best interest.
If you’re unsure about what avenue to take, go right to the source and take an employee poll. Asking your workforce what they want is the only foolproof way to get it right. Either way, employees often take pride in having a space that is their own. So no matter the layout of your office, be sure to allow for employees to customize it as they wish. That is the key to ensuring their personal space is a good fit.
8. Be Aware of Boundaries
Keeping professional boundaries sacred is important in business communication. It’s good to be friendly with the people you’re working with, but you don’t necessarily need to become friends with everyone.
Be polite and engaging, but avoid overstepping boundaries and involving yourself in personal drama.
9. Discourage One-Way Communication
10. Try Out New Tools/Software
A willingness to implement new tools should be a key component of any effective communication strategy. Integrating new tools is a great way to bolster your organization’s ability to communicate.
While not every tool is guaranteed to work for your team, if you’re looking to boost your customer service capacity, a great tool to consider for your business is a virtual call center. Virtual call center tools, such as those from 8×8, provide inbound and outbound calling capabilities, support a large volume of simultaneous phone calls, and integrate a cloud-based call center with chat, text, and social media features.
11. Take Full Advantage of Social Media
12. Don’t Reject Seemingly Mundane Mingling
For many managers and CEOs, idle chit-chat among employees can seem like wasted time and effectively wasted money. Employee mingling is actually an essential aspect of relationship-building.
You can’t expect your employees to have meaningful and productive relationships if they only discuss work topics.
13. Non-Verbal Communication Matters
According to a study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, 55 percent of communication is nonverbal. So, if you’re still frowning about a mishap at home when you get to work, employees may misinterpret your negative demeanor as proof that you are displeased with them.
Make a concerted effort to be mindful of your body language and build a positive rapport with verbal and nonverbal communication.
14. Address Sensitive Issues Sooner Than Later
Allowing a tense situation to build and fester is a recipe for a breakdown in communication. It’s much easier, effective, and professional to address an issue as soon as it occurs rather than waiting until it boils over.
Most of the time, a quick and direct discussion can resolve any interpersonal or professional issue without negatively affecting the relationship.
15. Address People by Their First Name
One of the easiest ways to connect with people is by actually addressing them by name in conversation. Using a person’s name, while subtle, shows that you acknowledge the individual as their own unique person and not just a number.
That subtle connection will make them more receptive to whatever you intend to communicate to them.
16. Avoid the Most Controversial Topics
There are certain topics that just don’t need to be brought up around the water cooler or in the break room. Politics, religion, and office rumors are a few at the top of the list.
Controversial topics, such as those can easily develop into heated discussions, can significantly impact the productivity of the team.
Creating content for blogs and wikis can have both internal and external implications, most of which will be positive for your organization. By encouraging your employees to create and publish quality content, you’ll be empowering them to inject their own personality into the company.
This, in and of itself, is a form of improved employee communication. Plus, employees can interact and comment on their coworkers’ posts, providing another effective tool for fostering a productive discussion.
18. Be Direct & to the Point
Business communications should be direct and to the point. They should also be written so that a person on the other side of the country can instantly understand what you’re talking about.
If you have even the slightest suspicion that something you’ve written could be lost in translation, rewrite it. Just be careful to be succinct, not verbose in trying to fully explain something.
19. Visual Communication Counts
For example, imagine trying to explain a company’s profit margins over the course of 12 months in an oral report without the use of charts and graphs. This would be difficult since the audience wouldn’t be able to visualize exactly how the company is performing. Supplementing this oral report with graphs and charts would allow the audience to actually see how the profit is trending and understand what that means for the company.
20. Give Employees the Opportunity to Recharge
Working long hours can be exhausting, especially when mental health is considered. Mental fatigue can lead to a plethora of other communication issues. So, give your employees the opportunity to step away when need be.
Whether this means taking an extra hour for lunch, or simply asking for the occasional personal day, you’ll get better results by granting your employees the time to reboot themselves.
21. Be Honest & Transparent
Leaders shouldn’t lie nor should they shy away from difficult conversations. Sometimes you need to let an employee or client know that there’s a problem. Before jumping to conclusions, be sure to ask questions and really listen to the answers.
Your perception of the situation could change with more information. In any case, treat the other person with respect and move quickly to solutions and next steps. The goal of tough conversations should be a positive resolution.
22. Identify a Common Goal
Within every organization, there exists a common goal, which can depend heavily upon the focus of the business. As it is important for your employees to be on the same page, identifying and clarifying common goals allows your team to function with maximum efficiency.
Putting in the effort to ensure that everyone in the company is aligned with the same goal is an investment that will never stop paying off.
Remove the Business Communication Barriers
With this guide, you should be more fully equipped with the tools and strategies you need for effective workplace communication. No matter what business or industry you are in, communication will continue to be a key indicator of performance and success.
While there is no such thing as someone communicating perfectly, you can get pretty close removing as many barriers as possible.
If we’ve missed any business communication tips or you have something else we should correct or add, please leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to your business communication success!