Effective communication is an element your business can do without. As an entrepreneur, learning the necessary business communication skills can help you accelerate growth and lead your organization to success.
Why are communication skills important in business?
If employees and customers are the lifeblood of an organization, then communication serves as the blood vessels that connect everything together. It’s the key to building and maintaining strong relationships between your company and its stakeholders. This creates a pleasant experience that entices them to keep coming back and do business with you.
Effective communication also prevents confusion, conflicts, and delays thus creating a positive work atmosphere. It opens doors to innovation and creativity, encouraging healthy discussion and exchange of information among team members. When communication flows freely, you’re also able to come up with more mature decisions faster.
Without it, your business will either remain unnoticed in the sidetracks or a concept waiting to see the light of day. This is why even if you're not a natural-born communicator, learning how to develop business communication skills is a must. It may take a lot of practice and challenge you to get far out of your comfort zone but the ROI will surely be worth all the effort.
Business communication skills to develop
Your verbal abilities, which refer to the words you use and how you deliver them, establish authority and trustworthiness. Here are some tips to improve in this area:
- Practice speaking clearly and concisely; get to the point quickly.
- Use positive language. Offer solutions instead of letting the issue go unresolved.
- Use the appropriate tone of voice. In verbal conversations, it is better to use “I” statements than “you” statements because it shows that you are assuming responsibility for your words/actions.
- Be assertive, not aggressive. Using “you” statements can sound unfriendly and bossy, and people do not often like getting told what to do.
- Use a softer tone of voice when asking someone to do something.
- Engage with the person you’re talking with instead of doing all the talking. Remember, communication is a two-way street.
Your body language also plays a role in successful communication. Consciously or unconsciously, people judge you based on your posture, mannerisms, appearance, and several other signals that you may not be aware of.
Exude confidence and professionalism by taking an extra step of improving your body language. You can start with these:
- Be aware of your movements.
- Study others. How do confident people carry themselves when speaking?
- Mirror the movements of the other person to develop a connection. But do not make it too obvious or it may look offensive.
- Avoid crossing your arms or legs when talking with someone.
- Make eye contact.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Avoid fidgeting.
Recognition of non-verbal cues
In research, 55% of emotional messages in face-to-face interactions are conveyed through non-verbal cues. Learning how to interpret others’ body language offers a major hint on what they are thinking or feeling at the moment.
For instance, a person’s feet usually point to where he or she plans to go. If both feet face your direction, it can be an indication that you’re receiving a favorable response or high engagement. But if a foot faces another direction, the person may be trying to get away from you.
The other non-verbal cues you can watch out for are a person's eyes, head movement, hand signals, the position of the arms, microexpressions, and proximity from you.
Active listening skills
Active listening allows you to better understand the person you’re speaking with. It also lets you notice the smaller cues and discern information that’s not being said in a conversation. As an entrepreneur, make sure to pay attention to your customers, employees, and anyone you’re conversing with to identify possible problems, mitigate risks, develop stronger relationships, resolve conflicts, and negotiate well.
Part of being an entrepreneur is sending emails, generating reports, and writing marketing messages. This means aside from being a good speaker, you must also write well. Poorly-constructed sentences with dozens of grammatical, typographical, and informational errors can reduce your credibility.
There are free online grammar tools you can use to check your documents from basic grammar errors. You can also take online courses during your spare time to further improve your writing skills.
Reading improves brain functions, increases vocabulary, and prevents cognitive decline. It also helps you stay sharp and updated on current economic conditions. Moreover, improving your comprehension skills through reading is extremely beneficial when you’re signing contracts and other legal documents.
Understanding other people’s feelings help you become a better communicator. Although it’s an often-overlooked factor in business, emotions still leave an impact on business communication. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes lets you transcend shallow-level conversations and connect deeper with other people.
An example of practicing empathy happens when you’re offering a product to a customer. The customer may seem interested but there’s an unspeakable element that stops your customer from buying the product, a budget issue perhaps. Instead of pushing the customer to make a purchase, listen and understand his or her concerns first. Offer genuine solutions. After all, entrepreneurship is about solving problems, isn’t it?
Getting the hang of these basic elements will prepare you for the more challenging areas of business such as presentation, negotiation, networking, and sales and marketing. Take your time to enhance your business communication skills. With constant practice and determination to succeed, you can be a well-versed entrepreneur.
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