Business communication is often treated like an odious task that requires a long list of special skills in order to successfully achieve. Not everyone is going to write the next bestselling business book, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate clearly and effectively with your coworkers and team members.
In fact, effective communication can be the difference between a team that works well together, and one that struggles to accomplish even the simplest tasks.
These simple but effective communication rules will help your business succeed.
- Know Your Audience
It is generally agreed that people with different cultural backgrounds use different body language and social cues in order to communicate. Knowing your audience is therefore an important part of communicating your message effectively.
But even within people that are from similar cultural backgrounds, communication styles can vary greatly. Some people are more comfortable with direct communication, and others will feel intimidated and uncomfortable when approached in this way. Understanding how you need to communicate your message is as important as knowing what you need to communicate.
- Communicate Through Desired Methods
Not everyone wants to communicate face to face. When dealing with vendors, especially, even a phone call may not be the most efficient way to reach your contact. Some business professionals have asked, will fax continue to be the preferred communication in business? Fewer companies have fax machines in their buildings, but there are fax services that work entirely over the internet and using PDF documents.
As a business owner, you need to be aware that not every client and vendor operates with the newest technology; maintaining the ability to communicate across all platforms will help you communicate effectively as a business.
- Consistent Messaging
While there is a push towards personalization in business, branding needs to support the overall mission of a business. If you are a lawyer, showing off your bodyboarding adventures might offer a personal element on your social media accounts; since it has nothing to do with your legal qualifications, however, your clients may find the message confusing.
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Branding needs to be consistent across websites, professional communications, social media, video blogging, and more. Even something as simple as varying tone from one page to the next can leave your customers confused about what to expect from you. This defeats the entire purpose of branding.
- Be Clear About Expectations
Whether you’re working with your team, with vendors, or with customers, it’s important to set expectations early and distinctly. Your clients need to know what level of service they should expect. Your vendors need to understand payment terms and methods. And your team needs to know how you expect them to complete their work, and what a timely deadline is on any given project.
Again, knowing your audience and their preferred communication method is clear here. Communicating on multiple fronts may often benefit you. For example, if a new policy is addressed in a team meeting, following up with an email may help enforce the policy.
- Keep the Blame, Share the Credit
Too many managers get this one wrong; when something goes right, they are happy to take the credit, but when something goes wrong, they pass the blame along to their team. This couldn’t be more inappropriate. Even if a specific team member did make a mistake that caused a chain reaction and led to a product that was delivered late (for example), that situation should be dealt with privately.
A good manager will step in and take responsibility for not completing their oversight role within the team. When something goes right, however, you shouldn’t keep all the credit to yourself. Make sure to point out who on your team did well and ensure that they get the credit they deserve.
This is a good team management skill, but it also works well in client interactions. Clients will have a better response to errors and problems if the problem is given a face. When you say that some delay has occurred, you can also say that you, personally, are going to take charge of fixing the problem.
This will often leave your client with a better overall experience of working with both you and your company. Don’t be afraid to show yourself as a person to the client within the context of a working relationship. Just be sure not to overshare.
Effective communication is essential to the long-term success of any business. Without good communication, teamwork won’t happen, client relationships will break down, and your business will struggle to maintain its audience. These simple rules, however, will make it much easier for your business to follow a successful communication model.
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