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3 Tips for Effective Business Communication

Big Think Edge | May 10, 2018

Effective business communication is not just an advantage for businesses — it’s a necessity. According to Salesforce, 86% of 1,400 surveyed corporate execs, employees, and educators attribute workplace failures to inefficient communication and lack of collaboration.

Holding a meeting when sending an effective and informative email would suffice, or making a presentation without first having a strategy or goal in place wastes both valuable time and business resources. The more efficient you and your employees are in their daily activities, the more successful your business will be.

Here is a list of three ways that you can make your business communication more effective:

1) Spend Less Time Sending Emails, More Time on Relationships

Ineffective communications cost businesses millions of dollars every year. A recent survey of individuals across North America and Europe shows that businesses lose an average $11,000 per employee each year because of the cost of ineffective communications and collaboration on productivity.

A good example of ineffective communication is the ineffective use of email. According to journalist and management expert Adam Bryant, although email was created to serve as a tool to enhance productivity, it is actually one of the worst ways to communicate.

Bryant, a Big Think expert, says in his video “Lost in Translation: The Problem with Email:”

“The basic problem is that you can't read tone or body language in emails so things get lost in translation... You can get into these disagreements over email that can chew up an entire afternoon, whereas if you just walk down the hall to talk to somebody in person you could probably solve whatever problem there is in two minutes and actually build a relationship.”

Other communication options that you can use include:

  • Walking down the hall to speak with colleagues in face-to-face conversations;
  • Using Skype calls or other video chat applications to communicate; after all, people typically can speak significantly faster than they can type; and
  • Having brief, daily stand-up meetings (no more than 15 minutes) with colleagues that allow you to touch on important things of the day or provide updates on projects while everyone is present.

2) Stop Expressing Feelings — Communicate Instead

If your employees want to be perceived as strong, effective leaders and communicators, they need to sound authoritative. Using phrases like “I think,” “I feel,” “it is in my opinion…” is linguistic hedging that does nothing to establish authority. In fact, these statements can lead to people perceiving the communicator as being uncertain in their knowledge or approach — like they have no idea what they’re talking about. And, if someone is uncertain about something, why should anyone believe them to be a confident, competent authority or resource on that topic?

These types of linguistic tics have become more prevalent in the last century. According to an article in The New York Times about this issue, these ineffective phrases are increasingly being used by men and women alike, whereas females typically have been viewed as using these phrases more frequently.

Consider these two sets of phrases:

  1. I think that it would be good if you could maybe try to get that report done by the end of the day.
  2. The report needs to be completed by the end of the day.
  3. I feel like more people would be interested in engaging in personal development training if we...
  4. We can achieve higher levels of employee engagement in personal training if we…

Not only are these second and fourth statements more direct, they also are more concise while remaining respectful toward the person being spoken to. This will not only help you sound more confident, but it can also help employees feel more confident when making presentations.

3) Knowing Your Authentic Self Helps You Be a Better Communicator

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that part of being an effective communicator is presence. In her Big Think video “Want to Be Your Authentic Self? Get to Know Your Beliefs, Values, and Abilities,” she describes presence as “the state of being attuned to, and able to comfortably express, your true self” in both good and stressful circumstances.

In that same video, Cuddy says:

“Presence comes from knowing your story, you know, really knowing who you are — so knowing what your core values are, what makes you, you. What’s one of the things about you that can’t be changed, no matter how you perform in this negotiation or on this math test?”

Your presence — being aware of your authentic self and your values — also helps you communicate a sense of true confidence.

“True confidence allows you to be open to what other people are saying. So if you’re bringing in an idea that you really care about you should want that idea to be as, you know, as good as possible. So you should want to be open to constructive feedback, right. People want to work with you if they see you as a collaborator, not someone who’s trying to say I have all the answers.”

Being an effective business communicator isn’t about just saying the right thing, using the right tools, or coming across as a cocky individual — it’s about having the right presence, speaking clearly and concisely in a way that conveys authority, and building relationships.

Big Think Edge offers a comprehensive video learning program on business communication. Drawing from the insights of prominent business leaders, consultants, HR professionals, authors, and psychologists, our experts have created a curriculum that provides a 360 view of communication, focusing on how managers and subordinates communicate and connect with each other and others.

To learn more about how Big Think’s team of experts can improve your employees’ business communication knowledge and skills, contact us today to request a demo.

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