Poor communication is the downfall of many a business. In fact, some of the most newsworthy business stories of recent years have developed due to lapses in communication.
For example, GM’s 2014 scandal regarding ignition switch malfunctions could have been avoided completely if the company had better internal communication protocols.
Additionally, Abercrombie and Fitch’s flagging reputation could have been salvaged had its CEO, Mike Jeffries, been more sensitive in his external announcements.
Not only is communication the core of efficient business – it is the center of human civilization. Without effective communication of one type or another, no relationship can successfully continue in the long-term. Therefore, businesses must always work to improve the efficacy of their communication systems and strategies. Here are a handful of strategies that everyone in business should master to ensure effective communication with everyone.
Keep It Simple
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a memo from the general manager or an informal email between coworkers – all communications should be simple and direct. There are only so many work hours in a day, which means most workers try to save time by skimming messages or multi-tasking during conversations. As a result, statements or questions hidden in lengthy communications can get lost and go unfulfilled or unanswered, slowing business. Worse, convoluted directions may be misinterpreted, slowing business even more.
Business communications are not creative works designed to elicit emotion; instead, their goal is merely to exchange information as efficiently as possible. Thus, all communication in a business setting should use short, simple sentences and do away with superfluous text or conversation, no matter who the recipient is and no matter what medium is used.
Have Reliable Tools
Both simple and complex messages are impossible if workers have no means of sending them. Modern business is built upon technology, which means optimizing business communications systems is vital to business success. The necessary tools will vary from business to business, dependent upon an organization’s size, scale, and communication customs. For newer businesses, it might be prudent to test a variety of systems to locate which communications most facilitate office productivity.
Become a Family
The better two people know each other, the easier they can communicate. For example, many close siblings barely need to string words together to get their points across.
In fact, a study by Texas A&M found that family-owned businesses tend to outperform their competitors when it comes to revenue and expansion. The study suggests that workers at these firms trust their employers and coworkers more, which eases communication and fosters growth.
To improve internal communications, businesses should encourage their employees to become close.
The most popular business marketing strategy of the moment is building relationships. Consumer audiences want to know the businesses they buy from, so having a reliable reputation is essential in all external communications.
In dealing with clients, competitors, or anyone outside the company, workers must be mindful of the brand’s image and tailor their language to suit the rapport the company has established in its market. Then, communication can flow more easily, as it does with familial internal communication.
Hire a Professional
Nearly all business communication scandals are the result of public announcements from business leaders inexperienced with communication strategies.
For example, during a speech at a conference, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella inadvertently implied that women shouldn’t ask for raises but wait quietly for others to recognize their work. Nadella is arguably the reason behind Microsoft’s recent rise, but this gaffe shows that even excellent businesspeople can be poor communicators.
If a business cannot afford a complete public relations team, they should at least invest in a single communications expert to draft press releases and write speeches. These types of business communications require more creativity and delicacy than most businesspeople are capable of, which means a professional touch goes a long way to facilitate the spread of positive messages, even outside of a crisis.
Humans make mistakes, especially in the complicated process of doing business. Sometimes, these mistakes cause miscommunication; other times, they are the result of it. Every element of language can spur change, be it advantageous or detrimental to business, so everyone in business must be accountable of every message he or she sends. Being aware of meanings and interpretations goes a long way to preventing miscommunications and mistakes.