Communication is Key to Success

Business communication is full of nuance. Attention to detail can make a big impact. Whether dealing with co-workers, clients or C-Level executives, you need to know your audience and speak their language. Sometimes it’s about delivery. Executive teams want concise, efficient delivery, with laser focus on business value and no time wasted. On the other hand co-workers and clients may want to shoot the breeze before getting into the nitty-gritty about specific project details. Context and goals matter. However the two most important keys to bridging roles, departments and teams are language and perspective. Before we get into how language and perspective create success, let’s talk about what good communication looks like.

Basic Business Communication

Whether you are an executive, team leader, or individual contributor you need to know the basics of communication. Clear understanding is the first step to success. Here are some things you can do.

This is a huge part of effective communication. When people know you are listening to them it builds strong relationships and deep trust. Trust will help you create an environment where people feel safe to express ideas and solve problems in unique ways. Listening is also the best way to gather the most accurate information. Some tips for getting the most out of listening: Focus, be present and pay attention. Don’t interrupt, let people say what they have to say, don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Don’t judge, keep an open mind and take in every point of view. Show interest and ask good questions.

Understand Non-Verbal Communication
You can tell you a lot about what people are thinking by body language, tone of voice and eye contact. Understand non-verbal communication and use it to your advantage. Use it to reinforce your words. Be sure to adjust for context. In these times of socially distanced communication, if you have the choice, go for the video chat. You can gain a lot of insight just by seeing a persons face.

Build Trust, be Authentic
This is done by being honest, being transparent, being interested and being consistent. Stay connected to people, whether you always agree with them or not be truthful and walk your talk. This may take time, but it is well worth the investment.

Have Empathy
Understand other peoples point of view. Teams tend to view objectives from their own specialized perspectives. Be open minded, listen and be consistent. More about empathy here.

Do Your Research
Know your audience. Understand who you are communicating with and what their goals are. Customers and co-workers want day to day details. Executives want big picture business impact. Know what you are talking about. Be ready to defend your ideas, but keep an open mind. Understand context, as well as when and how to deliver your message.

Have a Strategy You’ve done the research. Plan how to best deliver your message to the intended audience. Be clear. Be concise. Frame your ideas with value statements. Align your goals with the company’s strategy. Identify shared goals and values.

Ask for Feedback
Good feedback is useful in so many ways. It improves outcomes, processes, individuals and relationships. Try to see feedback as an essential tool to making your individual contributors, your team, your projects and your company better. Be thoughtful. Learn more about feedback here.

Common Language and Understanding of Perspectives Creates Communication Success

Once you get past the basics it’s time to understand how to get things accomplished. Know how to talk to the person or team you are communicating with. Develop a common vocabulary and metrics and use them to accomplish your shared goal. This requires understanding multiple perspectives. Knowing where the other side is coming from will help you understand their role in the process and yours. Establishing a common language can be time consuming, but it is essential to moving forward. Teams need to understand and respond to customer needs and pain points. They need to be able to find great solutions. By removing the internal friction of communication barriers and finding a common vocabulary between teams, it becomes easier to create that elusive culture of innovation.

Determine Goals
Establish goals and determine what you need to accomplish them. Short-term and long-term goals should be assessed based on over arching business objectives.

Individuals and teams need to understand their role in the business. They also need to understand the roles of other teams and individuals, and how they are interdependent upon one another.

Develop a Strategy
Determine the part each team or individual has to play. Decide what is needed internally and externally for proper execution.

Business Value
Understand the ultimate goal should be gaining competitive advantage. Knowing the business and how you fit into it is imperative. Be sure to address market and organizational challenges.

Doing these things allows for a shared vision. It enables cross functional groups to understand one another and operate from the same playbook. Essentially you should all aim to speak the language of your business. Understand what you do. Appreciate the perspective of others. This will take you a long way towards achieving your mutual goals and objectives. At Buttonwood we went so far as to write a Lexicon to help our clients, employees and vendors understand what we do.
Understanding that separate teams and individuals are working toward common goals is imperative. The sum is greater than the whole. Collaboration is critical. When communications boundaries are removed it paves the way for improved strategic development and leadership to support the execution of ideas. It encourages creativity and problem solving and drives the development of new products and innovation. Discovering a shared language for business will bring new levels of success.

References and Links

  1. How Business Thinking transforms design and delivers strategic impact, Ryan Rumsey, Link
  2. 11 Reasons Why Business Communication is Critical to Your Company’s Success, SMARP Blog, Link
  3. Finding A Common Language For Business Innovation, Faisal Hoque, Link
  4. 5 Reasons It’s Important To Speak A Common Language At Work, Lisanne Yeoh, Link
  5. Improving Communication Skills in Business and Relationships, Jimmy Lee, Link
  6. 6 Rules for Communicating With Executives, Lea McLeod, M.A., Link

Article originally published for Buttonwood.

Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash