By Jacqueline Sirota
Have you thought about what it takes to have effective business communication skills so you can build effective relationships with your clients, employees and colleagues? Most folks believe communication is something that just happens -- or doesn't. However, it’s important for you to know that you can improve your business communication skills to create positive business relationships and potentially improve your business growth opportunities.
The first step in self-improvement starts with self-awareness; begin by taking an inventory of your communication strengths and weaknesses. Consider your verbal and nonverbal communication skills, as well as potential barriers that may prevent you from being an effective communicator. By conducting a self-assessment, you can define your communication goals and develop an action plan for improvement.
Verbal communication includes both oral and written communication. You often use oral communication to conduct your business. As a business owner, you speak to your clients, talk with your colleagues and employees, ask questions, make presentations, handle customer complaints, and give instructions…using your oral communication skills to get messages across. You also need to develop effective listening skills. No matter how effective your oral communication skills are, if you don’t have active listening skills, you can’t communicate effectively. Some research shows that poor listening causes almost 60% of all communication problems in business!
Nonverbal communication is any message not spoken or written. As you might guess, what’s not being said is the most important part of any communication message. Nonverbal communication includes:
- Body movement. Eye contact and movement, gestures, body posture, and stance are the most expressive part of nonverbal communication, especially your eyes.
- Physical appearance. It’s important to make a good first impression. Recognize that your grooming and physical appearance can help emphasize your strong points.
- Voice qualities. Volume, speed, pitch, tone, and accent communicate (intentional and unintentional) messages. Be aware of your voice!
- Physical contact. Touching in a business situation should be suitable to the setting. In today’s global marketplace, it’s especially important to understand the culture and appropriate forms of business communication.
- Personal proximity and space needs. These are recognized and accommodated by effective communicators. Most business communication occurs in the social zone, within 4 to 12 feet.
Clearly, nonverbal communication is an important part of the communication message. Some research shows that only 7% of a message’s meaning comes from the verbal message…so be aware of what you’re communicating – even though you aren’t saying a word!
I hope you now have a better idea of the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication and will take a self-assessment so you can begin your journey to self-improvement.
Jacqueline Sirota, president/CEO of Jacqueline Sirota Learning x Technology Solutions, Inc., is a learning and development professional who can help assess organization learning needs and develop and deliver customized learning programs. Learn more at www.jacquelinesirota.com.