About James Crawford, Member of the Senatus Neutrals Roster; Retired,Global Business Development Specialist,United States Postal Service. Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Social Work, University of Dayton, Masters in International Administration, School for International Training, Brattleboro, VT.
Effective Business Communication: sounds simple doesn’t it? But it is as complex as business itself. However, there are some elements that apply to most, if not all, business communication events that go a long way to making them effective.
The first element is not verbal or written. The two parties must have a minimum degree of respect for each other. If this is not present, the communication link is broken. Another non-verbal element is the unspoken agreement between the two parties that one party actually has the authority to convey information and the other party actually has a responsibility to receive the information. This duality can switch back and forth, but unless the two parties agree that they are in an exchange of information, there really is no communication. Both of these seem simple, but both are essential.
Once these two elements are present, most business communication falls into one of two categories: to educate or to persuade, to bring someone to a point of knowing something they did not know before or to encourage someone to act or think in a desired way.
In each of these categories, the main goal is to transfer information from one party to the other. For this transfer to be effective, the party transferring the information must have a clear and precise understanding of what it is he wants to convey. If the originator of the communication cannot clearly express the concept he wants to convey, he cannot expect the listener or reader to receive the message. This is often the most difficult part of business communication. But it demonstrates the need for mutual respect in that the originator must be open to accept feedback from the recipient. This concept is often called “negotiation.” The whole reason for the exchange is to arrive at a point where both the originator and the recipient understand the content of the communication in the same way.
Not all ideas or concepts are best communicated in the same way and not all audiences or recipients can be expected to receive the ideas or concepts in the same way. The variations of communication style are endless but are best learned by first understanding the audience for or recipient of the information.
Re-read the five paragraphs you have just read. Did you, as a reader feel that I as a writer respected you enough for you to continue reading? Did you believe that I had enough authority to present a concept to you regarding effective business communication that merited your time? Did I educate you in some way or persuade you to consider this topic in a different way? Did I communicate in a way that clearly conveyed the basic elements of effective business communication using a style of communication that you felt comfortable with? If you answered “yes” to all of these then I have been effective. If you answered “no” to anyone of these questions, then I have not been effective and we should enter into the feedback and negotiation element of communication.