Twelve Tips For Strategic Business Communications, From Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach

Have you ever thought about the millions, no lets make that billions, of communications that take place each day in the world of business? We have e-mail, IMs, cell phones, PDA’s, iphones, direct face-to-face communications in meetings, and on and on and on. Communication is taking up more and more of our time as we conduct business. So, having said that, let me ask you if you believe we really are using our time and communication strategically? And are we really thinking strategically about the most effective forms of communication for each specific situation? Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach believes you gain a significant strategic advantage in your business when you think more and act more strategically with your business communications.

Reflecting upon those lessons learned from my more than 35 years of professional experience in business and the myriad of experiences from business coaching, here are twelve (12) tips for strategic communications in your business.

Tip # 1: Commit to being yourself in your business communications. It is best to write the way you speak. Do not try to sound like someone else. You do not have to be overly formal to achieve effective business communications. In fact, my professional experience indicates that most people receiving business communications will understand what you’re saying much more easily when you use a normal, conversational tone. ??Tip #2: Be positive! Focus on delivering your business message using a positive tone and a positive approach, even if it is something the person receiving the message may not want to hear.

Tip #3: Understand the environment where your business communications will take place. What is the environment for your business communication: on the phone, in a business office, face-to-face with a client, or a non-business location? Determine what makes you feel most comfortable, sitting, standing, etc. before initiating the communication.

Tip #4: Clearly define what is at stake with your business communication. Know why you are communicating, what you want to communicate, and with whom you will be communicating.

Tip #5: Communicate at the receivers level. To achieve an effective business communication the receiver of your message must understand the message you’re sending. Don’t try to impress the recipient of your message with big words that they will not understand.

Tip #6: Always avoid sending any business communication when you are angry.
When angry, you may be vulnerable to saying or writing things that you would not normally say or write and this will present a big communication barrier. So, if you are angry, step back and wait till you are calmer and then prepare your message and choose your words carefully.

Tip #7: Always avoid the use of technical language and jargon in your business communications, unless you are communicating with someone within your specific industry and using common words, phrases, and acronyms. And if you are unsure if the recipient of your message will not understand, then define the term or terms in your communication.

Tip #8: Strive for clarity and brevity in your business communications. Extra words do not always enhance your message. Demonstrate respect for the valuable time of the recipient of your message by keeping your business communications to ones that convey something important and meaningful.

Tip #9: Always observe proper business etiquette in all business communications.

Tip #10: Be an active listener during business communications. And make sure you not only listen, but that you “hear and understand” what is being communicated.

Tip #11: Always communicate the benefits and values you are providing to the recipients.

Tip #12: Try to anticipate questions and try to answer them in your business communications. This has the potential to save time and possible additional communications.

The need has never been greater for well-crafted, carefully considered and effectively targeted business communications. Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach encourages you to fully realize the benefits of business coaching to strategically and effectively communicate in your business.

Glenn Ebersole, Jr. is a multi-faceted professional, who is recognized as a visionary, guide and facilitator in the fields of business coaching, marketing, public relations, management, strategic planning and engineering. Glenn is the Founder and Chief Executive of two Lancaster, PA based consulting practices: The Renaissance Group, a creative marketing, public relations, strategic planning and business development consulting firm and J. G. Ebersole Associates, an independent professional engineering, marketing, and management consulting firm. He is a Certified Facilitator and serves as a business coach and a strategic planning facilitator and consultant to a diverse list of clients. Glenn is also the author of a monthly newsletter, “Glenn’s Guiding Lines – Thoughts From Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach” and has published more than 250 articles on business.

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Three Critical Need Areas for Business Communication Improvement

Whether it is business communication or personal communication, communication is all around us.

But what is communication? Do we really know? Do we realize how important it is and how much of a factor it is in making our personal or business lives succeed or fail?

Experts tell us that many of the inmates in prisons are there because of a lack of communication skills issues. We are also told that eighty percent of the workers in our nations are unhappy in their job because of this lack of skills issues as well.

Here’s what communication is:

“the act of transmitting. A giving or exchanging of information, signals, or messages by talk, gestures, writing, etc. To make known. To give information, messages. To have a systematic and meaningful relationship. A system for sending and receiving messages as by telephone, telegraph, radio, etc… A system as of routes for moving one place to another. The art of expressing ideas, esp. in speech and writing. The science of transmitting information, esp. in symbol.” (Websters New World Dictionary).

Thus, communication is a system for sending and receiving messages.

We send and receive messages all day long, in our personal and business lives. But, we don’t know how to do it properly and we mess up enough daily to affect the outcome of society.

In business, so much of the results depends on our ability to communicate — people to people, department to department, sales to accounting, production to processes, marketing to finance, company to customers, etc.

From my observations, in most cases, the biggest need for improvement in business is found in the following three areas — in that order:

1. Organization

2. Communication

3. Training

Communication cannot be implemented on top of disorganization. Training cannot be implemented on top of non-communication. And, organization cannot be implemented without the effective communication of trained people.

For years, we’ve seen seminars and training on this subject become more and more popular, yet we still want more of them. We especially want those that offer something new that will help us to improve our business communication.

But we still have problems communicating. Why? It is because of the missing link. Then what is this missing link?

The missing link is the “contextual part” of all communication.

So, to pick up from our three critical need areas listed above, “contextual” communication is the bridge that connects and sustains organization, communication and training.

What is the difference between communication and contextual communication? Communication is still communication but contextual communication is communication within the “context” as it is described here:

Context: “the parts of a sentence, paragraph, discourse, etc. immediately next to or surrounding a specified word or passage and determining its exact meaning (to quote a remark out of context). The whole situation, background, or environment relevant to a particular event, personality, creation, etc. Contextual: of, depending on, or belonging to the context. (The New World Dictionary).

The problem is that we communicate without an awareness of this “contextual” parts of our daily business communication as well as personal communication.

So put these two descriptions of “communication and context” together and you have the recipe for better and improved business communication in the three critical areas of needs in business communication: organization, communication and training.

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Intercultural Aspects of Business Communication

The most important aspect of any business relationship is communication. Today our world seems to develop into a really global marketplace, there are more and more international firms and organizations that deal with other companies throughout the world. The aim of the article is to study the nature of cross-cultural communication and the intercultural skills that can be useful in any kind of international business relationships. So it is very important to communicate the right way with the representatives of different cultures and nations as the simplest mistakes can cause terrific problems in understanding. There are many scientists and economists who worked at the field of business communication.

Among the foreign scholars we can name Fred Luthans, Larry A. Samovar, Margaret H., De Fleur and many others. The native scientists who devoted their works to the subject of business communication are N. Formanovskaya, V. Goncharov, N. Moskovcev, V. Derkachenko etc. Analyzing business as the sphere of social relations psychologists believe that success here depends on 85% on the person’s ability to communicate. While communicating we use together with some logical tools things we don’t often really understand and pay attention to. Among such subconscious phenomena we can point out the first type of communication which is non-verbal. It can be defined as “non-word human responses and the perceived characteristics of the environment through which the human verbal and nonverbal messages are transmitted”.

Non-verbal communication differs from verbal in some fundamental ways. For one thing, it is less structured, that makes it more difficult to study. Some types of non-verbal communication, such as the meaning of colors and certain gestures, can vary from culture to culture. Thus, it becomes obvious that learning, understanding and following the traditions of different cultures make it much easier to find the right direction on communication with their representatives. While words can carry just the message, non-verbal communication expressed by intonation, gestures, and even facial movements can let the opponent know the attitude of the person. Also it helps to establish credibility and leadership potential in business. For successful communication all the forms must be paid much attention to. More thoroughly we come to the approach that there are no forms of communication to be omitted. We come across the idea that all the forms must be used to get better and more completed results of communication and transferring thoughts and information.

Culture surrounds us all the time. A person may not realize it, but he constantly belongs to several cultures. Making attempt to explain what exactly culture is we can define it as system of shared symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms for behavior. Thus all members of any culture have and tend to act on similar assumptions about how people should think, behave and communicate. Cultures may vary widely. It is no wonder that most of us need special training before we can become comfortable with a culture that differs from our own. And it is apparent that any business person dealing with a foreign partner for successful communication must first of all pay attention to the cultural sphere his partner belongs to. Accepting the regulations of the partner’s culture it is always easier to build and correct the process of negotiations that way that the partner feels some comfortable.

When there appears the necessity to deal with foreign partners a manager has to learn about another culture, and there are two main approaches to choose. The first one is to learn as much as possible – the language, cultural back ground and history, social rules, and so on – about the specific culture expected to deal with. The other one is to develop general skills that will help to adapt in any culture. To become a successful multicultural communicator Margaret H. De

Fleur proposes a set of guidelines for achieving maximum results:
1. Recognize that every individual has emotions, needs, and feelings that are as sensitive as yours.
2. Try to understand the cultural norms of the partner who you communicate with.
3. Respect the customs and traditions of the others.
4. Listen actively in a co-cultural communication encounter.
5. Learn to cope with uncertainly.
6. Avoid stereotyping people who are different from you.
7. Be aware of your own ethnocentrism.

The more differences there are between the people who are communicating, the more difficult it is to communicate effectively. Among the main problems in cross-cultural business communication the scientists circle out language barriers, cultural differences, and ethnocentric attitude. More significant problems arise in forms of written communication that require translation.

As it was stated above, misunderstandings are especially likely to occur when the partners who are communicating have different cultural backgrounds. For example, one side of negotiations makes a message in one context, using assumptions common to people in his or her culture. The other side of negotiations decodes the message using absolutely different set of assumptions. The result is confusion. Such problems arise because of our unconscious assumptions and non-verbal communication patterns. Often the fact that people from different cultures differ from each other in many ways is ignored.

According to the recommendations of scholars such as I. Kuznetsov, V. Goncharov, V. Suharev and others it is possible to circle out certain rules to follow while communicating: try to eliminate “noise”; look for feedback; rephrase your sentence when necessary; use objective, accurate language; let other people finish what they have to say. Culture and communication are inseparable. Culture influences the way people behave, the language they use and gestures they employ. In its turn, all this makes an impact on the traditions of dealing with business partners. That’s why in recent years the interest of communication theorists, scholars, scientists, and researchers was engaged with cross-cultural communication. Anyway, when engaging in any form of communication, a speaker must take into account the possibilities of misunderstanding. That’s why it is so important for a business person to develop skills with the help of which it becomes possible to control and correct the communicational situation with cross-cultural partners. Nowadays, intercultural communication difficulties have become a source of misunderstanding in business relations of our multicultural world society.

The process of globalization makes modern businessmen pay more attention to developing skills of running a business with foreign partners. That’s why the ideas on both organizational behavior and norms of communication stated in the article have become one of the most essential approaches to the successful running of business in the modern world community.

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