A business person communicating on a mobile device

How effective business communication can transform your company

The right business communication solutions and strategies can boost team morale and productivity.

El equipo de Slack15 de abril de 2024

People spend the vast majority of their workweek—88%—communicating, according to Grammarly’s 2024 State of Business Communication report. So when it comes to company success, a strong business communication strategy can go a long way.

Effective business communication helps promote collaboration, mitigate conflicts and encourage creative thinking among employees. By communicating thoughtfully, you can reduce misunderstandings and errors within your workplace and ensure that every team member gets the support they need.

Let’s explore communication tools and methods that can help you build better relationships with your employees, colleagues and clients.

Types of business communication

Communication can flow in several different directions within a company.

  • Upward: Communication flows upward when an employee responds to messaging from leaders or managers, such as when a customer service rep responds to feedback from a supervisor.
  • Downward: Downward communication happens when higher-ups cascade information to lower-level employees, such as when the CEO issues an announcement to mid-level managers, who then relay the message to their direct reports.
  • Lateral: Communication moves laterally when it flows between colleagues at the same hierarchical level. This might occur among managers in a strategy meeting or HR employees discussing policies and procedures.
  • External: External communication flows out of the organization, such as when a sales rep talks to a prospective client or a vendor.

Written vs. verbal vs. nonverbal communication in business

  • Written communications use written words as their medium. These might include company newsletters, marketing emails or blog posts.
  • Verbal communication can take place over the phone, in a video conference or in person. Verbal business communications happen during meetings, presentations, business workshops, and even spontaneous Slack huddles and informal watercooler chats.
  • Nonverbal communication uses wordless cues such as physical gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and even emoji to relay information. For example, a manager might react with a 🙌 :thankyou: emoji to a direct report’s progress update in Slack to indicate a job well done.

What are the different methods of business communication?

From direct messages in Slack to external press releases, you can convey information using many business communication methods, but some methods work better than others for certain audiences or types of messaging. Let’s look at some of the most common business communication mediums.

  • Business messaging: Platforms like Slack support business messaging in either direct messages or channels. Use threads to organize conversations about specific topics, create a collaborative Slack canvas to record notes from a team meeting and use emoji to convey nonverbal messages.
  • Meetings: Meetings are ideal for discussions that require immediate feedback, such as brainstorming or planning sessions. You can conduct a meeting either in person or virtually by using video-conferencing software.
  • Phone calls: Phone calls enable quick information exchanges and urgent updates, often in a less formal environment than video conferencing.
  • Emails: Email is a relatively quick, efficient and informal way to deliver updates, responses and feedback. However, it lacks many of the collaborative features and dynamic characteristics of an intelligent productivity platform such as Slack.
  • Reports: Reports are detailed, formal knowledge sharing documents that present research findings, analyses or updates to either internal team members or external stakeholders.
  • Press releases: These are official statements distributed to media outlets to announce new developments, events or achievements.
  • Memos: A staple of internal business communication, memos are often used for company announcements such as policy or staffing changes.

Developing effective communication strategies

Regardless of your chosen medium, you should choose your business communication techniques wisely. As you set up a business communication process for your company, keep a few best practices in mind.

Adapt the message to your audience

Customize your message to your intended audience. Regardless of what you’re trying to communicate, you’d deliver the message differently to a group of kindergartners than you would to tech CEOs, or cattle farmers, or personal trainers. Evaluate your audience to make sure you provide an appropriate amount of context and assume a suitable tone.

Consider how you’ll present yourself

Your presentation is particularly important if you’re holding a meeting in person or through video conferencing. Take a few deep breaths, and evaluate your body language: Are you open and inviting? Are you making eye contact (or looking into the camera)? Maintaining a relaxed demeanor can help others feel relaxed too.

Whether you’re communicating in a video conference, over the phone or in person, stay enthusiastic and engaged while you’re speaking.

Manage nonverbal signs to control the message

Consider what you might be communicating with your nonverbal signals. In an in-person meeting, avoid glancing at the clock or the door. In a video meeting, try not to look at your phone or your second monitor. Otherwise, your audience may think you’re not engaged.

Nonverbal communication is even important on text-dominant platforms like Slack. A survey by Slack and Duolingo found that 53% of respondents use emoji when messaging their colleagues, and 67% feel closer and more bonded when their recipient understands the emoji they’re using.

Plus, emoji make professional conversations more efficient. Fifty-four percent say emoji can make workplace communication faster; 58% say emoji allow them to communicate nuanced messages in fewer words.

But not all emoji are appropriate, of course: 💋 :kiss:, 👅 :tongue:, 💩 :poop: and 🍆 :eggplant: rank among the most off-limits emoji to use at work.

Practice active listening when people respond to you

Active listening involves asking questions and giving thoughtful responses to show that you’re engaged with the discussion. By demonstrating your interest in the other person’s message, you’ll strengthen your relationship with them and make it easier to remember details from the conversation. Active listening matters no matter which communication method you’re using.

Ask for feedback from team members

One of the most effective and efficient ways to improve your communication practices is by asking for feedback. Implement a process for delivering feedback, and make sure your teammates feel comfortable using it. This could be a brief post-meeting survey or a thread or quick huddle in Slack.

Handle conflicts respectfully

Even with a flawless communication strategy, disagreements will inevitably crop up. When you don’t see eye to eye with a teammate, manager or direct report, ensure that you continue to communicate thoughtfully and respectfully.

Addressing common barriers in business communication

Communication problems arise due to various factors, including interpersonal differences and tech-related snafus. Let’s explore some of the most common barriers and how you can break them down for better business communication on your team.

Technological hurdles

Technology lets colleagues communicate instantaneously, seamlessly and cost-effectively, even across long distances. But software glitches, connectivity issues and hardware malfunctions are also commonplace and can significantly disrupt communication flow.

Make it a point to:

  • Regularly update hardware and software
  • Train employees on best practices for using communication technology
  • Implement backup methods to ensure continuity in case of system failures
  • Establish communication protocols in case primary systems fail

Email overload

Ever find yourself avoiding your email inbox on a Monday morning? Email overload can make it easy to lose track of important messages or fall behind on responding to colleagues.

To curb the negative effects of email overload:

  • Use folders, filters and labels to organize email by priority or project
  • Limit email checking to specific times of the day
  • Unsubscribe from non-essential notifications or newsletters
  • Train employees on email best practices, such as how to write subject lines and when to CC other team members
  • Shift to a more efficient team chat platform like Slack for quick questions and updates, reserving email for more formal communications

Language and cultural differences

Nonverbal cues, such as direct eye contact, convey different meanings across cultures. For example, Americans regard it as a sign of honesty and confidence, while the Japanese perceive it as disrespectful, even confrontational.

Certain nonverbal cues, idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms may not translate well across different cultures. This even applies to emoji: While many Americans might consider 🍑 :peach: flirty and inappropriate for work, 71% of Korean respondents to Slack’s survey interpreted the emoji as a literal peach. Similarly, 56% of Chinese respondents see 🍆 :eggplant: as simply an eggplant.

To enhance cross-cultural communication in business:

  • Invest in employee cultural training to prepare them for the nuances of working with diverse teams
  • Use professional interpreters and translators to prevent misunderstandings
  • Be ready to adapt strategies, communication methods and decision-making processes to accommodate cultural differences

Send the right message at the right time and place

Effective business communication takes time and effort. It’s up to team leaders to implement strong systems and processes to ensure that communication flows smoothly through their organizations.

Slack provides a feature-rich, scalable, AI-powered platform that easily integrates with third-party applications. No matter where your teammates are located around the world, Slack makes it easy for them to collaborate, stay informed and drive projects forward.

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