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Improving Business Communication Skills < Business Articles By Mast Business Directory

Executive Summary

Effective communication in business happens when you convey your ideas, messages to people as clearly as possible without leaving any ambiguity. The same applies when the communication is in the other direction i.e. you should be able to receive messages without distortion and comprehend them properly. A careful effort from both the parties viz. the sender and the receiver is the underlying factor. A lot of stress is given of effective communication because even a slight misunderstanding during conveying key decisions can cause tremendous confusion and cause an organization a large sum of money/profit. In this article we shall discuss about how to improve business communication skills.

To be a good communicator we have to consciously emphasize on following key points:

Making a good impression at the beginning

It’s easy for others to evaluate your personality and form an opinion about you with couple of seconds. Once an opinion is formed, it is seldom a reversible process. Never be late. Make sure you have enough time to reach early even if there is traffic/delay in transportation. Never put up an uncomfortable face. Be easy-going and confident. Greet the other party with enthusiasm and strike an interesting conversation. Dress appropriately. Do your hair and keep your tie-knot tight. Make the other person feel that you attentive towards what he has to say. Never show signs of disinterest no matter how unfruitful the conversation is.

Develop a comfort level between different individuals and groups

Do not hesitate to disclose information. Instead, build trust amongst different groups of individuals. In case of personal issues between you and others, take feedback (popularly termed as “intervention”) from third party and learn about yourself. A popular model called as “Johari window” is used in corporates to illustrate this.

Be a good listener

Perhaps listening isn’t a skill that everyone is a master of. Active listening improves your relationships with others. We should listen to obtain information and to understand well. Human beings retain on 25-50% of what they listen. The rest falls on deaf-ears. Clearly, this isn’t going to do any good for business productivity. There should be a self-awareness of your communication style. This will help create lasting impressions. Only way we can come out of our norms of 25-50% is to actually take effort for 100% reception. This is called listening “actively” or consciously. While listening make an acknowledgement in the form of a simple nod or a “uh…hmm”. Encourage the speaker. Provide feedback. In case you are into an argument, do not interrupt the speaker. Put forward your counter-arguments once the other side finishes speaking. Old habits die hard- concentration and determination can come to the rescue.

Be a good public speaker

Public speaking isn’t a favorite activity for everyone. Most of the people fear to speak in front of a crowd. Perhaps they get blank and start doubting while speaking if the really do make sense. A good course of preparation before your much-awaited or rather much-feared presentation can do the needful. Understand the subject of the presentation. Get to know in advance what type of people will listen to you and their skill level. Prepare different speeches for common man, executives, colleagues, etc. Understand why you are speaking, what is the goal you wish to achieve. Learn how to best convey your message. Take good examples, motivational thoughts, real-life business success stories etc. Even a bad example is an example. You can use it when you put forward your “don’ts”. Utmost important is your speech delivery. Once you know what you want to speak, deliver your speech with a bang. Don’t talk too fast. Perhaps pauses could prove effective.

Presentation checklist

Preparing a brief checklist before presentation could be useful. Include the topics you want to cover in your speech, make a note of example that you are going to quote, the questions you are going to ask the audience etc. Remind yourself how you are going to get dressed, check your presentation slides thoroughly and try to sync your speech with those.

Appropriate questioning skills

Every piece of information isn’t available readily. To get the data that we want, most of the times we have to resort to probing. Probing deals with asking questions seeking for information. During probing, if we ask the right kind of questions, we shall get the right answer. It’s simple- our questions should not lead the other person away from the information that we want. Asking the right questions may not only lead you towards obtaining better information, but also to help build stronger relationships. Use different techniques for probing. Closed ended questions are the ones which generate a single word “yes/no” answer. Open ended questions provoke the other party to give answer in the form of a sentence or maybe even an explanation in the form of a paragraph. Another technique is funneling where the flow of the question is such that it generates a specific answer from general ones. It is mostly detective type questions to narrow down to a single suspect.

Running effective meetings

When you run a meeting, it can go on forever without the right issues being discussed and you keep asking yourself why you are even present in such a meeting. On the other hand, effective meetings lead to a conclusion and you have a feeling of getting energized when you come out of one. So what is in a meeting that you should look out for to make it effective? First of all, the meeting should be able to achieve its objective. Discussions in a meeting should be such that it takes a minimum amount of time. Use time wisely. Be clear of your priorities, results and the sequence in which they should be achieved. When the above two things are present, it makes the employees feel a sense of achievement.

Role-playing

Role-playing is a technique where you can be prepared beforehand of the difficult to manage situations before they occur. This makes you capable of preparing the answers for the future. Pre-prepared for some eventualities that you know might be difficult to handle. People work in a group of two or more in role playing. Each person takes a role and enacts it for a conversation. The problems that need the solutions can be discussed and worked upon. It gives the people a sense of confidence to handle difficult situations. A common example of role-playing is the one where the call-center plays the role of an irritated customer and the trainee plays that of a customer service agent.

Opening closed minds

A very common scenario that most of us face when trying to convince people is that they reject the idea even without considering it! Common types of people to be dealt with are the “negaholics” (people who always have “no” for an answer). The views of these people are restricted to some ideas and values and it is very difficult for us to convince them. Being a good communicator we should understand why these people think so and what their morals are. Targeting the morals and building your ideas on top of it is the key to convincing them and getting your work done.

Ice breakers

It is often seen that when we sit together in a new group, we hardly tend to talk to each other. It is upon the best interest of the people in the group that someone comes up, intervenes between the dead-air and breaks the ice. Big companies have ice breaking session right during their orientation session. Ice breaker exercises during such sessions make you feel comfortable in a group. You start talking to people and understand what topics do they like to converse on.

Delivering the bad news

This is one of the most difficult situations you can be in. Consider terminating someone’s employment of letting the employee know of some bad news at their respective home. Not everyone takes situations lightly. You should be well prepared for the reaction of the other person. You should pre-prepare for consoling and offering condolences.

Negotiation skills

Good set of negotiation skills always helps. Be it negotiating for salary in front of an HR or cracking a million dollar deal for your company. There are people who always try to exploit you. It’s is best that you know your market value and set a standard for yourself. Be polite while negotiating. Adhere to the point, don’t beat around the bush. Explain why you feel you are right and seeking out a better prospect.

Business success stories

Read business magazines in your spare time. Get in touch with those inspirational quotes from the entrepreneurs. Read articles on how a business became successful over a period of time. Mentioning data about such business stories makes your speech inspirational, motivational and away from boring. These were some key points that we looked upon for developing good set of communication skills in business. Do not leave that diplomatic touch in business. Develop a good set of networking amongst your colleagues and never enter bad-books of anyone especially your seniors. These small tips can boost your personality and let you achieve success in business, be it a promotion or transform your business from small to medium to large scale.

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