Tips for effective business communication
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Business communication is ongoing in any business whether the business is a traditional "bricks and mortar" environment where all members are under one roof or a virtual business where members may be dispersed around the country or globe. Even in small companies, communication can present challenges. Following some simple tips can help.
Commit to Listening
When communicating, those involved in the communication are too often more concerned about what they have to say, than about what they are hearing. A focus on active listening makes a difference and can help business communicators notice nonverbal cues that may be conveying different messages. For instance, in a meeting, a person who is saying, "Yes, I agree, " may be shaking his head slightly, sending a mixed message. Being alert to these signals provides opportunities for clarification that can lead to better understanding.
Use Available Tools Appropriately
Business communicators today have access to a broad range of communication tools that include the traditional memos, meetings and telephone and the new mobile phones, Internet and social media. As new tools emerge, the old ones don't go away, meaning that options are rapidly expanding. Choosing among them can be challenging. Importantly, communicators need to choose the right tool for the audience and the message being conveyed. Much depends on the preference of the person receiving the message. If employees prefer to meet one-on-one, for instance, the manager should consider establishing face-to-face meetings to address their preferences. In addition, says Linda Pophal, of Strategic Communications, a variety of tools should be used together as part of an overall communication plan designed to achieve specific results.
Related Reading: Hallmarks of Effective Business Communication
Communication isn't one-way and it isn't accomplished by sending a message and assuming the message 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 and surveys or by tracking interactions through online project management tools.
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