business communication 101, business communication skills basics, and best practices
Your. Communication. Expertise, begins, by. Being intentional. About communication. Rather, than treating it as an afterthought, at the very end of a project or worse, after. Communication, problems happen. To. Be proactive about, communication. We, need to make it a habit to ask ourselves seven. Key, questions. When, faced, with any new project, or initiative, these. Seven, questions, reflect. The, variables. That exist in every, communication, event. So. What's a communication, event, you. Could be making a sales call or, presenting. At a conference or, simply. Chatting, with friends over lunch, maybe. Your company is about to make a major, reorganization. Or. Maybe, it's about to make a minor, policy, change. Every. One of these situations involves. Communication. And those, seven variables, are at work, when. We learn to manage these variables, we, increase. The likelihood of communication. Success, you. Get that sale your. Conference, attendees, understand. Your ideas clearly, your. Friends, will feel a more solid, relationship. With you to, the, extent that we ignore any. Of these seven, variables, we. Risk miss, communication. The. Customer doesn't understand, the value of the product and doesn't. Purchase, your. Conference, colleagues, think what, are you talking, about and your. Friends, well. They're, friends, so they give you the benefit, of the doubt but. Repeated. Miscommunication. Can leave even our closest, loved ones feeling. Wounded, or upset, with us, so. What, are these seven communication. Questions, we need to ask ourselves. I'll, overview, them now and then we'll do a deep dive into each. Who. Should receive. This news, who. Would be the best sender. What. Is the bottom line message, how. Might the message be interpreted. Do. We want or need feedback, on the message, what. Is the best channel. How. Should i time, and sequence, this message, are any. Other context. Issues important. These. Seven, questions, can transform. Your communication, efforts if you. Make it a habit to ask them, let's. Do in an assessment of a communication. Event in your company using. These key questions. Think, of a message that was supposed to be communicated, widely, within your organization, it, could be anything a new, phone system being, installed or a new, process for requesting travel. Reimbursements. Maybe. People were told to cut back on their copy machine, use or. An important, goal was met last month and the, leadership wanted, to celebrate the victory. Select. A situation, that seems fairly typical of, the communication. In your workplace. First. Who. Were the receivers. Or the people who heard, the news did. The right people, get the message in your situation. One. Of the leading communication. Problems, is assuming. That everyone. Who needs to get a message, actually. Got that message, when. We take the time to identify each. Party. Who should receive a message we'll, avoid this common, problem. Next. Who, is the sender, of the message was. The sender the best person, for the job why. Or why not. Third. What, was the intended, message, did. People get enough but not too much information, did. They know what they were supposed to do in response to the message. Fourth. How, was the message interpreted. Do. You think that you and all, of the other receivers, heard, the message in the same way, did. It mean the same thing to all of you, did. The sender clarify, any aspects, of the message that, might have caused confusion or, emotional. Upset. Getting. Senders, and receivers, to, align, their thinking, is one, of the most challenging aspects. Of communication. Next. How did the message get from, the sender to the receiver or, what, was the channel of communication, was.
It An email a one-on-one. A large, group meeting. Maybe. A notice, on your intranet, or a blurb in the newsletter. What. Would have been the best, way to get the message from point A to point B. Ours. Sixth question is about, feedback, were. Receivers, asked, to share their thoughts on the message, if, people. Did give feedback did. Anyone respond, to the feedback or, was communication. Pretty much one way. Feedback. Allows us to make sure that the message was received and, understood the, way that we had hoped. Finally. Let's consider context. In your. Communication. Event would. There have been a bad, time, to communicate the news when. Would have been the best time. Did. Location. Or relationship. Affect the message. So. How did your organization do, you. Can think of another message, that needed to be communicated. At your departmental. Or team level, and assess. That event, using, the same questions. Did. You have more, success, with a smaller group, what. Areas, received, the lowest scores. Is that. Typical, we. Explore, each of the seven, key areas you'll. Find it helpful to work through each movie, in a sequential order, but. Plan to really, focus in on those sections, where, your organization needed. The most improvement. Now. That we've covered the seven key areas make. It a habit to ask these, questions of, yourself and others. Nearly, every, day. Once, you know your purpose make, a list of all the people who should be involved, in the project or should know about your work, we, need downward. Communication, that, is messages, that flow from the top levels of management, to, the employees throughout, the company. Downward. Communication is most common, but, can become distorted. If passed through too many people. Remember. The childhood, game called telephone. One. Person, would whisper something to the next person in the circle who, would then whisper it to the next and so on the. Last person, in the circle would say aloud, what, she heard which, was never what the first player had originally, said the. Game was fun and made us all laugh but. In business it's not funny, try. To communicate directly to. As many receivers as possible. Upward. Communication, allows management, to learn about problems, that only frontline, people are privy to, when. Channels, are in place for employees to be heard by their leadership they, feel more valued. Upward. Communication is, notorious. Though for being skewed. Toward, the positive. No. One wants to give the boss bad news and no, one wants to confess when things aren't going well so. Upward. Messages. Tend, to suffer from a positivity, bias. You. Can use opinion, surveys, Q&A. Sessions, advisory. Boards. Ombudsman. Hotlines. Suggestion. Boxes, skip, level, interviews, anything, you can think of to, encourage, upward, honest. Communication. In your company. Horizontal. Communication is, often overlooked. Yet. That dreaded, silo. Mentality begins. To grow when. Departments. Or units see, themselves, as independent. Actors, rather, than part of a collective system. If. You notice, a lack of lateral. Communication. You. Can initiate, conversations. With people at your level in other departments. Consider. A once-a-week, coffee, or even just a quick drop by to chat about current, projects. Powerful. Collaborations. Often. Begin as simple, conversations. Have. You started thinking of who you should have on your list, there's. One more group to consider, who. Might be an unintended. Audience. Emails. Are so easy, to forward, as, communicators. We want our message to be received by the intended, audience and we, need to be aware of unintended. Audiences, so. Think carefully about, who, could end up here, in your message. I want, you to give some serious, thought to the best senders. Of your message your. Senders should be influential. To the receivers. What. Is it to be influential. The. Ancient Greeks would explain it this way when. Asinus speaks, the. People say how. Well he speaks but. When the most Feeney's speaks, but, people say let's march, the. Most thinnest is our influencer. Here someone. Who can change the actions, of others. What. Makes, a person influential. And a good candidate, for sending messages, people. Generally influence, us if they have some, kind of power in, our eyes and that, power falls, into five categories. Legitimate. Power happens. When people comply, with a request, because the sender, has a certain, title or position let's.
Face It sometimes. We do what the boss says because the boss is the boss we. Respect, the position and demonstrate. That respect, through compliance. Reward. Power refers. To behavior. Motivated. Because a sender can reward you, in some way you, follow up quickly with a request from a potential. Client because. He has the power to reward, you with new business, or, just. The opposite. Coercive. Power happens. When a sender, can punish, you in some way or take, away good, things in life you follow, up quickly with an existing, client because. He has the power to take his business elsewhere. People. Are influenced, by expert. Power when. A sender, really. Knows her stuff why. Not follow an expert, right and. Finally. Referent. Power is. Influenced. That happens as a result of credibility, or, similarity. These. Five power, categories. Are not absolute, rather. Influence. Is situational. You. Might be influenced. By your financial, adviser on what stocks to purchase, but. She might seem, less, influential, to you when you're deciding, color to paint your kitchen. Don't. Make the mistake of assuming that. You. Are the best sender, of your message if. Someone, else could be more effective. Passed. The torch. Focus. On your purpose and if, enlisting. Someone, else to be a spokesperson. Of your idea would. Help give the idea wings go, for it tap. Into the influence, that will work. Now. That we've identified who. Should hear our message we. Must remember that these people will interpret, our message to, understand, its meaning. See. The lines drawn, through the heads of the senders and receivers, these. Little lines remind. Us that no, listener. Is an empty, vessel awaiting. Our message, rather. People, have, mental. Filters. We. All have preconceived. Notions. Assumptions. Biases, good and bad our, unique. Way of seeing, the world your. Receivers, have their own perspectives. About you and your message, these. Mental. Filters, can, skew, how our message, is heard and understood. Our. Third, key communication, question. Is how. My message. Be interpreted. Let's. Consider a few examples I. Send. A memo, to remind. John, about, an upcoming safety. Meeting how, might John interpret, my message, he. Might think, doesn't. Trust me to remember anything, or. Hmm. Safety. Is important, around here, or. Isn't. That nice, being helpful in trying to ease my burden, now this example from, the emotional, intelligence activity. Book cautions. Us that even a simple, reminder email. Is subject. To interpretation the. Relationship. I have with John, his, state of mind when reading my email, and my specific word choice can all affect, the meaning, for John if I'm, mindful. Of the possible, interpretations I, can, clarify my, intent, by, adding one extra line, to that email, something. Like I know, your, plate is really full right now just, wanted to be helpful, mental. Filters, are the source of far, too, many, misunderstandings. But. By being thoughtful, and, proactive. You. Can help overcome this. Common, communication, barrier. Let's, add a fourth, important, communication. Question to our process, what. Is the, bottom line message, we've. Identified our purpose, so we know the core idea but, we have all of these different receivers. With, different, ways of interpreting the same message so, we must learn to focus, and, frame. The, idea carefully. Let's. Start with focus. Our. First, task, is to identify the. Bottom. Line message, what. Is the one thing, your audience must remember, when they walk away from your meeting or after they read your memo how can you tell if your communication. Has a core, message, a great. Self check is to share your intended, message with a friend or a colleague and ask the question what do, you think is the, most, important, takeaway, from this speech, or email. Or slide, deck if. Your, friend didn't, get your bottom. Line message go. Back and simplify. Focus. More on the, key idea, and repeat, it more often. Focusing. On one key, idea is challenging. There is so, much, we need to communicate. But. It's better to successfully. Communicate one, idea, then. To unsuccessfully. Attempt to communicate a bunch, of ideas. Focus. Your message on one, key, idea. Now. That we're focused on one, central. Idea we. Frame, that, idea, for our intended, audience. Consider. The audience's, knowledge level, possible. Reactions. And reason. For listening. Frame. Your message to align, with the unique, needs, of your listeners.
When. We present to executives, for example we, realize, that they are most concerned with the big picture and bottom, line results, when. Someone makes a technical, recommendation. Your, CEO, needs, to know how much it will cost what. The risks are and what, the benefits are the. Engineer. Who will actually create, the solution, has, a much, different list. Of needs some. Marketing, experts say that repeating, a message three, times, will work while, others live by the rule of seven, a, Microsoft. Study on audio, messages, concluded, that between six, and twenty. Repetitions is, best. Regardless. Of the exact, number, of repetitions, or effective. Frequency, it's, pretty clear that once doesn't, cut it. Commercials. Air over. And over, and over. Because. Advertisers, know, the value, of repeating. A message. Nikes. Just. Do it campaign, has. Been used for over 26. Years. Eminem's. That melt in your mouth not in your hands have, been around since, 1954. Don't. Give up if you, state, your message once and don't feel heard, don't, expect everyone, to hear, remember. Believe, and act, on your message because you sent out one email or, talked about your idea in one meeting focus. On your bottom, line message your must, remember, message. Frame. For, your unique audience. Focus. And frame. You. Feedback. Is a message, about the original message it takes, one-way, communication. And turns, it into two-way, communication. There. Are dangers, with one-way, communication. One. Of those dangers, is misunderstanding. A manager. Tells an employee to do a certain task but, then rushes, off to a meeting the. Employee without, a chance to clarify. Misunderstands. The task does. It wrong and creates all sorts of problems. Another. Danger with one-way communication. Is low morale a team. Is told they have to move to a new location and, are, given no input, into the decision, they. Feel unvalued. And morale sinks. Market. Alignment, can go haywire. When companies, rely on one-way. Communication. To customers, a company. Could decide to offer a new product without, getting, feedback from its consumer, base. Millions. Of research, and development, dollars later the. Project gets scrapped, because, customers, aren't interested. You. Want to build opportunities. For feedback into. Your organizational. Communication, process, to avoid these dangers. But. There are dangers, in seeking, feedback as well feedback. Takes time, feedback. Is dangerous, if we ask, for input but have no intention.
Of Addressing, concerns or, using, the shared ideas. Morale. Sinks, even, lower if leadership. Pretends. To be listening, but, then isn't really responsive. So. I've been honest, about potential. Dangers, of feedback, it can slow things down and it, creates an expectation, that. The feedback will be responded, to but. At the end of the day the, benefits, far outweigh, any potential, drawbacks. Internal. Feedback can be just as beneficial as, customer, feedback. Google. Holds, fixit's. Or problem. Solving sessions with employees, in one. Fix-it. Session employees. Shared, 51. Different suggestions. For, how to improve, career, development, those. Ideas were voted on by thousands. Of other employees. And the, three top ideas were implemented, a year. Later employee. Satisfaction went. Up on the annual employee survey, including. Double-digit. Increases on the career, development questions. The. Benefits, of feedback are, undeniable. We. Would all improve, the organizational. Communication. In our companies with, two-way. Communication. Make. It a habit when planning, your communication. Efforts to, build in, that feedback loop. Your, communication, plan is, almost complete. We. Now figure, out how, to get, your message from, sender, to, receiver, what. Is the best channel. Should. You send an email, have. A meeting, call. People, if the. Message, is our vehicle for communication, the, channel, is the road we choose, we. Begin our choice by exploring, the richness of, each communication, media, available. To us, richness. Is measured, by whether, or not a channel, supports. Immediate, feedback, provides. Verbal, and nonverbal, cues. And has. A personal, focus. So. How would you rank the, following channels, on richness. Phone. Videoconference. Brochure. Email. And face-to-face. Did. You're ranked, list look, something like this face, to face meets, all of the richness criteria, when. We meet in person you get instant, feedback you, can, see and hear. What I have to say and it's. Innately personal, because for, person-to-person. Videoconferencing. When, the technology works well has. Many of these same, features. We. Lose the body language and facial expression. Cues when we move to telephone, and we, lose all, nonverbal. Cues with, the exception, of emoticons, when we move to text but, individual, emails still, have a personal. Focus that, brochures, lack. Does. This mean we should never, use email, or brochures, well, of course we will and we should the. Channels, that are less, rich, are still good channels, as long. As we use them for unambiguous. And simple, messages, there, are other factors to be considered in, our channel choice. Need. For permanence, makes a written document, actually. Better than a face to face, speed. And cost also. Need to be part of our decision, and finally. Affect, your, leadership team once, your Department to know what an outstanding, job they, did on a project, last week which, channel would have the better effect, a mass. Email to everyone on the team or a, personal. Handwritten, thank-you, note to each team. Member, if, you need to communicate the, seriousness, of a new policy are, you better off posting.
A Message on a bulletin board or. Attending. A staff meeting to talk about it Channel makes a difference. Consider. Richness. Permanence. Speed. Cost. And effect, so, we've made an intelligent, and informed decision. When selecting, our channel our highway, for the message, but. We may still encounter a, few roadblocks. In our path let's. Imagine that your HR, director, needs, to communicate a time-sensitive. Change, in the benefits package to all employees. The. Message starts with a face-to-face, visit to the vice president's, who, are in turn to tell departmental, directors, who, in turn are to tell unit supervisors. Who in turn tell their staff, good. Plan. Unless. One. Of those directors, also had, ten other messages, to communicate to her supervisors, who, were now on overload. And another. Director, communicated. The message but. Two of the supervisors. Were on vacation, so, didn't pass the message along to their staff some, staff members don't. Have a reporting, line to any of those vice presidents. You. Might notice that the communication. Is all one-way. And we've, already discussed the, dangers, of too little feedback when. Some employees, have heard the message and others, haven't, the. Rumor, mill kicks, in as it, inevitably, will when people experience, a communication. Vacuum. The, grapevine, which is the rumor mill is. Fascinating. It's. An informal. Network of communication. That often moves faster. Than the formal channels but, isn't, always as accurate. Rumors. And misinformation. Can, spread, rapid-fire. Hence. That great line a lie, can travel halfway around, the world while. The truth is, still lacing, up its boots. We can't dictate, an order. To stop using, the grapevine. Rather. We. Can attempt to limit its damaging, effects by sharing, a wealth of information in, the formal, channels when. People aren't thirsty. For information, they're, less inclined, to participate. In rumor spreading, concede. That the rumor mill exists. Attempt. To understand, its nuances and, use. It when appropriate to. Supplement, the slower, formal. Channels. Meetings. Are a channel, that we rely on heavily. In the workplace more. So than we might realize look, at your calendar last month, are, you coming in pretty close to that estimated, sixty, two meetings, given. That we spend so, much, time in, meetings, I want. To share two tips that. Will instantly, improve, the effectiveness of, your meetings neither. One will cost you a dime and both, are quick easy, changes. To make first, make.
A Minor, adjustment, to your agenda to, improve, the efficiency of your meetings, most. Agendas, look something like this. Strategy. Realignment, quarterly. Sales regional. Marketing plans I, suggest. That you add an objective to. Each agenda, item like this. Determine. Next, steps for strategy, realignment. Report. Quarterly. Sales, brainstorm. Regional. Marketing plans, people. Prepare, and interact. Differently, if they are listening to. Brainstorming. About or acting. On deciding. On an issue let. Them know in advance what, mental. Space to be in as they, enter the meeting then. Add a time. Frame to each agenda item, the. Time frames allow people to gauge how much sharing. Is appropriate. If you. Reach the end of the allotted time and the, team has not finished that item you can simply ask do. We want to continue this discussion and, eliminate. Some other agenda item or can. We in the next two minutes wrap this up, teams. Frequently. Realize, that they are belaboring. A point and will, choose to wrap up and move on, suddenly. Naysayers. Are ready for a vote people. Full of conversation, are ready to be quiet and you, move on I'm. Always amazed, at how effective this tactic is, once. You have your agenda, in order your. Other meeting, tip is to make sure that all important. Controls are being filled this, includes, information giver, information. Seeker initiate. Devil's, advocate, encourage. Ur facilitator. Gatekeeper. And note. Taker if you, notice that some of these roles are not being, filled you. Have a few choices, you. Can step up and fill that role yourself, you. Can bring the gap to the attention of the team and ask, for volunteers for. Each role or, you may have to be a bit more creative, improve. Your agenda, and get, those roles assigned to, make the most of one of our most used, channels. You, are down to one final, question to, ask yourself as you craft your communication. Action plan what. Context. Issues, should you consider, all of the variables, senders, receivers. Message, feedback, are, affected. By, the context. That's the situation.
Surrounding Your. Communication. Event for. Example imagine, going, to a meeting, at 2:00 in the afternoon you. Had a heavy lunch the. Conference, room temperature, is just a little warm and you're, feeling very sleepy, now. You've never met the presenter, at the meeting before most, people in your office complain, about meetings, it's, common, practice to attend, but not really engage, and, right. Before you walked into the meeting you, got a call from your friend cancelling. Your dinner plans tonight so, you're bummed all of, these situational. Issues can affect, your perception, of the speaker, and your. Overall interaction. Compare. That meeting, to, one that you attend when you're wide awake feeling. Happy, in an, office that routinely, has, productive. Efficient, meetings and you're. Good friends with the presenter, the, new situation changes. Everything, as. Communicators. We, certainly, don't control, all the, contextual, variables, at play I can't. Help it that your friend cancelled dinner but. We should manage those that, are within, our control, timing. And location are, two parts, of the context, we often can control, if you. Need to give an employee some critical. Feedback it, may be convenient, for you to stop him in the hallway right after, the staff meeting because, you're both there anyway, but. Convenience, is not, a good rationale, for a context. Decision, if others, can overhear, your conversation you. Risk, making that employee feel. Humiliated. Or defensive. Organizational. Climate is part of the context, mix and causes. 15%. Of communication, problems, according to the Zaremba study climate. Is the emotional. Tone of an organization. It's, a sense of how comfortable, people feel with one another, and the, company, a supportive. Climate will. Encourage, interaction. And flow, of communication. While. A defensive. Climate, will slow, the, flow a supportive. Climate will predispose, people, to look for positive intentions. Rather than negative for. Example when, you communicate a change, in a supportive, climate people. Give that change a chance and approach it with an open mind rather. Than immediately. Finding. Fault and resisting. Doesn't. That sound great so, how do we create a supportive. Climate. Professor. Reading, a pioneer. In the organizational. Communication. Field identified. Five conditions necessary. For, a supportive, climate, supportive. Credible. Open. Participative. And, emphasizes. Goals. Evaluate. Your organization. On these five, dimensions of, supportive, climate write. One, action, you could take this week to boost. Each factor, even a little bit drive. Positive, climate, by, communicating. A commitment, to organizational. Goals. Ethical. Questions, surround, communication. Is it, ever okay. To lie is a, lie of omission still, a lie when. You anticipate. And report. Best-case, scenario, is that, hopeful. And therefore, ethical, or is. It exaggeration. And unethical. Is, strategic. Ambiguity, that's. The practice of being intentionally. Vague to, avoid responsibility. Is it unethical or, is it just savvy. Business, practice, how, much information, should you share to stay on the right side of the ethics line what. Do you do when, confidentiality. And transparency. Clash. Answers. May seem easy while, these are just hypothetical. Questions, but. When we face real, situations. The. Decisions, can become challenging. With. So many ethical, dilemmas possible, how, can you, make good choices, and, let me share just a couple of tips first. Remember, that a positive, communication. Climate requires, credibility. And openness. So, use, these two pillars when, you face communication. Ethics questions. Secondly. Think, ahead of the types of ethics situations, you're likely to face take. A moment now to brainstorm. At least five or ten ethically. Questionable, communication. Situations, you could encounter. Researchers. At Northwestern University. Discovered. That people are less likely to lie if they, have a conversation about. Their, ethical decision, first, this. Is true even, if the truth, meant. The people get paid less during, an experiment. Pre-emptive. Thought and conversation. Helps. Us stand, our moral, ground. So. Take some time now to consider how. You will, communicate if, faced. With any of these ethical situations, you brainstormed, keep. These important, things in. Mind especially. If, your, organization. Is ever faced, with a crises. You. A crisis. Is a unique, context.
That, I hope you never face but. If a crisis, were to happen in your organization. I want, you to be ready with great communication. Strategy, a crisis. Is any unforeseen. Event that, can damage your company's, performance and, reputation, are, you. Prepared, for a product failure, that creates tons of backlash, how. Would you handle a viral, video of an employee driving, a company, vehicle while intoxicated, how, about a major security, breach a discrimination. Claim against your CEO. We. Need to be ready for the unpredictable. And the, time to fix your roof is when the sun is shining, likewise. The, time to prepare for a crises communication. Event is before. The, crises unfolds. Spend. A few minutes now making. A list of the 10 or 20, most, likely. Crises, in your business. Brainstorm. Economic. Informational. Physical. Human, Resources. Reputational. And even. Natural disaster, possibilities. Then. Walk. Through our list, of seven key questions. Determine. All of the stakeholders. Employees. Victims. Families. Local. And regulatory, officials. The, media, choose. The best sender, this. May not be your, CEO if, facts. Are still uncertain, or your. CEO, doesn't, have extensive. Press briefing, experience, you, may be better, off with your PR, person, upfront at least at first your. Receivers, will likely fall into, one of four mental. Filter, categories. Supporters. Who, think highly, of your organization. And will, defend you during, a crisis. Straddlers. Who just, aren't sure yet what, to think of you skeptics. They, lean towards, not supporting. You and the, haters you. Don't need to win over supporters, and you're, unlikely, to win over the haters so. Focus, on messages, most. Curtain it to, your straddlers, and your skeptics, we've. Discussed, the need to focus, focus, focus your, message and when, your message may be reduced, down to a headline, or a 30-second. Sound bite on the evening news you, must, have, your bottom-line message clearly, articulated. And upfront what. Types of feedback would be helpful to your team as they move forward, how. Do you solicit. The feedback that you can use what. Channels, would be most appropriate for various stakeholders.