Communication is the lifeblood of any organisation. Whether it’s issuing simple instructions at work, sorting out a tricky situation with a subordinate, lifting flagging morale, working out a better way to meet productivity targets, briefing your team on customer feedback after a product launch, or as CEO, getting your employees to buy into your company’s vision – communication is the pivot of any business venture, from start-up to global corporation.
Types of Business Communication Skills
Speaking or verbal communication is perhaps the most frequently used way to get a message across at the workplace, and it includes meetings, presentations, workshops, in-person interviews, and telephonic and video conferencing.
It’s direct, it costs nothing, and it’s instant. It is also effective because it allows the receiver to pick up on critical non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone, pitch and body language.
This communication skill is best used in situations where establishing a personal connection is important, such as conflict-resolution scenarios, team-building exercises and while selling a product. But as more and more businesses go global and they work with partners, clients and customers all over the world, verbal communication is losing out to digital platforms.
This is another powerful business communication skill, which embraces the gamut from email, internal business memos, formal letters, bulletin boards, posters, flyers, PPTs etc.
Effective writing requires careful choice of words that send out a message cogently and accurately.
This form of communication is reliable; it can be used to reach multiple individuals all at once; and is the best way to convey technical information.
Since it is precise and explicit, written communication is an effective tool to explain complex concepts and to issue instructions. It is unambiguous, and when the writer is articulate, he or she leaves no room for misinterpretation.
Written communication also creates a paper trail for future reference and it also helps the legal teams of large companies do their job.
This is tough to master simply because more and more people, especially young people, are spending less and less time reading.
Many limit their ‘reading’ to social networking sites and instant messaging, while reading only when absolutely necessary.
Yet, to be a successful employee, executive, manager or CEO, you need to master the art of reading simply because at least half your business communication is in written format. It is the better half of ‘writing’ in the paragraph above!
Perhaps the most difficult business communication skill to practice, listening implies that you not only hear what someone is saying but also understand the content, decode all the non-verbal signals and filter the message without bias or prejudice.
Effective listening is a winning tool in every manager’s toolkit, for it implies the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes, something every employee craves – an empathetic ear.
Take that attitude to a much larger level and you have a company that listens to what its clients, customers and even the competition has to say.
A company that listens effectively is one that is open to ideas, feedback, innovations, has good organisational relationships, is willing to correct its mistakes and inevitable marches forward.
English in Business Communication
Like it or not but the English language is globally considered the ‘lingua franca of business’.
In India, this is a boon and a challenge, depending on which side of the English divide you find yourself.
For those on the wrong side, there are many, many options. So where do you sign up?
Communication Skills Training
Institutes of international repute such as the British Council and Cambridge University Press offer Business English Certificate courses.
These institutes have centres all over India while they also offer online options.
There are also numerous private institutes that offer to improve your proficiency in English and business communication skills in general.
Learning to communicate in English is just one aspect of improving your business communication skills. Once you master the entire repertoire, there’s no underestimating the thrust it can give your career.