As we get more and more channels to communicate on; there are more and more ways of being misunderstood. How can you avoid the pitfalls in business communication? Firstly, you need to understand what communication is and then how to communicate well.
What is communication?
According to the online Oxford dictionary, “communication” is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”. When we look at business communication, we are discussing how companies share or exchange messages between employees, customers, partners, and any other party that engages with the business.
How to communicate well
Pitfall 1: Not being aware of your audience
When you consider your audience, think about how the information you are sharing with them will benefit them. Also, consider what is the preferred method of communication for your audience. Some people like emails; others like messaging apps. Next, carefully consider what information you are sharing. Some information may be better sent via email than through messaging apps. These are all important considerations when thinking about the audience.
Pitfall 2: Writing an unclear message
Many messages can be misunderstood because of the way they were sent, or the actual words used to share the message. Here are four keys to keep in mind:
- Be concise: Ensure your sentences are short and words speak to the point you want to make. Limit the number of references made. Make sure you leave out unnecessary words, phrases, and sentences.
- Be clear: Use easily understood words. Try to limit the amount of jargon used. If you do need to use business jargon, make sure it is clearly understood by your audience.
- Be specific: Sometimes we communicate a message using words which are just air. For example, we could say “we are solution-driven in our quest to solve your problem”. Rather be explicit about how you solve the problem. After all, we not living in medieval times and going on quests.
- Be complete: You may have been working on the project for months but when you speak to other people, they may not have your background in the project. In this case, it is important to talk about the idea as if it is new and share all the information that is critical for the message receiver to understand your message well.
When you have finished constructing your message, read it out aloud to hear if anything sounds disjointed. You can also run it through a spell check to ensure you haven’t made any spelling mistakes.
Pitfall 3: Using the wrong channel of communication
As has been mentioned before, your message can be sent via a myriad of channels. When you have chosen the method of communication you are using, ensure you know how to use it properly. If you are doing a webinar, try to have a trial run to orientate yourself with how to use the equipment.
If you are sending an email, make sure you are sending the message to the right email address. To prevent you from accidentally sending the message to the wrong person, fill in the email address after you have written the email.
Pitfall 4: Not taking ownership of the message
Sometimes mistakes are made in the messaging we send out or we send a message which is not well received. We must take responsibility for the message as this will build trust with our audience, be an example for our team, and create a culture of trust in our business.
By avoiding these four pitfalls, we will be well on our way to being better understood by our audiences.
Article provided by the NSBC