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Why the Best Business Communication Isn’t Just Words

To be successful in business communication, you need to be able to leverage certain types of business communication skills effectively. Some of these abilities include strong written and verbal communication, presentation, negotiation, and networking skills.

However, among the most effective communication skills in business are those that extend beyond merely spoken or written words; they encompass the realm of “soft skills,” or what are known as interpersonal skills. These types of business soft skills include:

  • Actively listening to what others have to say,
  • Speaking clearly and effectively,
  • Being aware of yourself and how others may perceive you,
  • Being aware of others and their needs, and
  • Collaborating and interacting with others.

Business communication skills play a critical role in business success. Salesforce reports that 86% of 1,400 surveyed corporate execs, employees, and educators attribute workplace failures to a lack of collaboration and inefficient communication.

How Business Communication Skills Reach Beyond a Dictionary

Nonverbal Communication is More Effective at Expression Than Words

As social and expressive beings, it is impossible to not communicate. Every action we take expresses a message. If you smile at someone, your body language conveys a positive message. If you speak with someone and cross your arms in front of your chest while pursing your lips, or let out a heavy sigh while rolling your eyes, each of these forms of body language communicates different and potentially negative messages that can change the meaning of what you say. Simply put, interpersonal skills, particularly nonverbal communication skills, are critical to effective business communication.
Historically, body language has been viewed as being more impactful than words. According to an article in Psychology Today, a common belief is that “55% of communication is body language, 38% is tone of voice, and 7% is the actual spoken words.” Although this idea has been proven to apply to very specific circumstances (such as when the nonverbal and verbal channels do not match), it is at least points out that nonverbal communication can and does play a significant role in effective communication skills as a whole — particularly regarding business communication.

Demonstrate True Understanding Rather Than Merely Regurgitating Ideas

Virtually anyone can recite the words they hear or read; however, it does not mean that they genuinely understand the concept in its entirety. They may still have a lot to learn or gain from greater understanding. Big Think expert Alan Alda says that business professionals often can get swept up in using industry jargon, which is helpful in some circumstances, but it can also mean that they may or may not have a full understanding of what the terms really mean.
In an interview with Big Think+, Alda says:

“Choice of words does matter. It matters a lot. But, I think that it’s important to remember that if all we do is get the right words in our head, and the right order of words, and think that that’s going to make all by itself good communication, I think we’re missing the boat. Because, really, effective communication is not just because I have something perfect to say to you. It really occurs when you understand and internalize what I have to say and are able to make it your own, to remember it, and that kind of thing.”

Body Language Plays a Central Role in Establishing Rapport

Sincerity and empathy are essential components of building trust and rapport with others. While you can be sincere or empathetic with your words, using nonverbal communication skills — the tone of your voice, the expression on your face, or the look in your eyes — is the most authentic expressions of these qualities.
Would someone believe you if you said “it’s a pleasure to meet you!” with a scowl on your face? Or, would you trust or feel a connection with someone who won’t make eye contact and keeps looking around? Probably not. The body language in both situations would overrule the positive message of the spoken words. When you share bad news with someone and communicate empathy in your voice and demonstrate openness in your body language, it communicates a sense of honesty and empathetic understanding in a way that saying “I’m sorry” cannot.

Relationships Are at the Core of Business Communication

Part of what makes someone a great business communicator is their ability to use interpersonal skills to control their behaviors and interactions with others, which makes it easier to create relationships. This is a concept known as emotional intelligence (EQ).
Emotional intelligence, an idea that was founded by Big Think expert Daniel Goleman, is all about how well people handle themselves and their relationships. It consists of four domains — self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and relationship management — and boils down to your ability to manage your emotions through your interpersonal skills rather than allowing your emotions to control or affect your behaviors and attitude.
Big Think+ is a global provider of convenient and scalable video learning programs that are taught by world-renowned industry leaders. To learn more about developing or enhancing effective business communication skills, check out the Big Think+ Business Communications course today.

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