Revised edition, April 2018
Sometimes it's not what you say, but what you do. Have you ever parked the company car, the one with the logo on it, in a disabled parking spot? What does that communicate about you, or more importantly, your business?
Simple Rules for Effective Business Communication isn't just about how to write a letter, it's also about why you might be writing that letter, or why you should be dressing a certain way, or behaving (or not behaving!) in a certain manner, to ensure that you communicate exactly what it is that you WANT to communicate about your business.
This booklet is as applicable to small business owners as it is to their staff, their managers and larger businesses.
Short and to the point, this book outlines simple rules and food for thought to help you communicate more effectively in your business dealings.
To be able to implement some simple rules for effective business communication, there are some basics which must first be considered, and which can be identified using the ‘What, Where, When, Why and How’ type of question.
The first thing to be comfortable with is a definition of what communication actually is.
Question: What is communication?
Answer: Getting the message across. Not just sending it but sending it in such a way that the receiver understands what you’re sending.
You can send out a message in Morse Code, or give a speech in Italian, but if your audience doesn’t understand Morse Code or Italian, then are you really communicating?
You can answer a question sarcastically, but if your audience doesn’t see your facial expression or hear it in your voice, will they understand what you’re really saying? So more than just the words and the language, it’s about the meaning. It’s about getting the message across.
Question: Why do we communicate?
Answer: To get a result that we want. Quite simply, it’s a form of manipulation.
From the moment we are born, we use communication to get what we want: a baby cries to indicate that it needs food, a nappy change, or simply just a little comforting.
Every communication we make is a form of manipulation, but not necessarily the bad kind. While it can be as simple as a warm smile to make someone feel better, every communication we make is an attempt in some way to get someone else to think or do something that we want them to do.
Question: When and how do we communicate in business?
Answer: As well as with every letter, email or telephone call, we communicate every time we open our mouths, put on our uniforms, drive our branded cars, roll our eyes or lean forward in conversation – every miniscule item of our behaviour is a form of communication.
A roll of the eyes when uttering something sarcastic communicates that the words are not to be taken literally.
Clint Eastwood’s best-loved character, Dirty Harry, once famously uttered, ‘A man’s got to know his limitations.’ It’s great advice.
If you don’t know how to build a sentence using five syllable words, then don’t!
If you don’t know the meaning of a word, don’t use it. Use something you understand.
If your spelling, punctuation and grammar aren’t the best, get someone else to polish your work up before going to print or before you give that speech. If you don’t have someone in-house who can do this efficiently for you, then engage an editor, especially if getting it wrong could lose you a contract, a client or a court case!
If you see or hear an example of what you feel is good communication, remember it for future use.
Likewise, if you notice an example of what you feel is bad communication, remember that – then steer clear of it!