5 Tips to Improve your Business Communications

By: Andrew Brown

In today's day and age of e-mail, Blackberrys and text messaging, business environments are relying on technological advances to facilitate communication. Certainly, operations have become more efficient. However, are interactions becoming more effective as a result?

Continuing to develop interpersonal communication skills is never something that should take a back seat. Simply put, how you communicate is just as important - if not more important - than the product or service you are trying to sell. In our rapidly changing and fast-paced business environment, building relationships is critical to the success of any business. For small businesses in particular - that may not have a formal communications function - every individual in the business is a part of the communications effort.

From the Experts:

1.Pay attention to physical cues. Experts say that when you meet someone, you have just ten seconds to make an impression on them. Elements such as eye contact, a firm handshake and a calm speaking voice are all part of the communication you are delivering or the interaction you are facilitating. Keep checking the other person's non-verbal cues as well to adjust your approach, mirroring their style - are they friendly or formal? Do they appear open to closer talking or prefer to have more space between each other? By answering to these questions in real time and adjusting your physical style appropriately, you can easily make a potent first impression.

2.Employees come first. Meet with employees one on one at regular time intervals. Experts recommend weekly meetings and advise both parties to come prepared with updates or issues for discussion. This is a perfect time to discuss career path strategies for your employees as well. You can also take the time to inform employees of any performance issues that have arisen, giving them time to mark improvements before any formal reviews.

3.Take advantage of presentation training. Group speaking skills are critical, and especially important for small businesses looking to grow referrals and network in their industry or market. In addition, be able to effectively communicate to employee groups to build credibility and ensure consistent messaging about your expectations.

4.Be careful with emails. Know the difference between what messages can be delivered via email and what must be discussed in person. As a rule, save more emotional matters for face-to-face discussions. On the flip side, learn how to become more succinct with your e-mail communications to ensure you're delivering the facts and outlining appropriate action steps so that everyone is clear on your requests. A good rule of thumb: write the way you speak and remember that longer is not necessarily better.

5.Use logic to construct your communications. Whether speaking or writing, state the facts to support your opinions. Avoid limiting your credibility by using statements like, "I feel." Instead, use goal-oriented language and avoid unnecessary storytelling.

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