By Robert Levey
While there is an art to effective communication in business, it is also a science and one grounded in several inviolable principles.
What are you trying to say?
This seems obvious, but it is not. Are you trying to get someone to do something for you? Are you proving a complex point that will require a substantial amount of evidence? Are you speaking to your direct superior or someone you manage?
Much like an academic paper with a central thesis, your communications in business should have a point with a specific outcome in mind. Define the outcome you want before you communicate. You also want to consider your resources and if you have what you need to achieve your desired outcome. Once these considerations have been made, you can now determine your communication method — in-person, email, text, phone, etc.
How are you saying it?
This should go without saying in any form of communication, but keep your tone professional when engaged in business communications. Tone, well, sets the tone — and if you strike the wrong cord from the onset of a communication or negotiation, you decrease the likelihood for success.
To some extent, your tone should also reflect your role at an organization. If you are an associate (junior ranking), for instance, you have much less flexibility in how you address others in business communications. You, in effect, can hardly represent anyone other than yourself. Such caution, however, would not need to be exercised if you are director of communications and expected to represent an entire brand.
Where are you saying it?
If you are writing an email, does every sentence need to end with an exclamation point?! While a lot of people today use exclamation points, it does not mean it is right. If you are looking to make a positive impression in a business communication via email, think very seriously about your punctuation.
Businesses are also using texting for internal communications, which can take many forms. Business texting can mean asking employees to sign up for open enrollment. It could mean recruiting new employees. Business texting could also mean sending out emergency updates to staff working out in the field. In any of these examples, less is always more. In other words, if you can say something in 15 words, try to say it in ten.
Why are you saying it?
This is the last major consideration when it comes to effective business communication, but it is really the first question you should ask yourself. Why are you trying to communicate? While this seems almost overly simplistic, many of us are inundated everyday with communication, much of which is not necessary.
Before you hit send on that email or text, or make that phone call, consider the value in possibly not communicating. Are you in the proper frame of mind? Are you possibly upset about missing a sale and ready to chew out a colleague? Be aware and mindful of your present circumstances before proceeding in any kind of business communication. After all, how and what we communicate is the way in which others perceive the value we are able to offer them.