Effective communication in business
Effective communication in business is not about creating the
perfect PowerPoint presentation. It's not about writing the
perfectly-pitched report. It's not even about assiduously
Sometimes effectively communicating in business can hinge on
something really simple——the habits you bring to your
interactions with others.
As we all know, we all have habitual behaviours that we carry
around with us and use unconsciously. It could be the "um" you
sandwich between every fourth word of your presentation. It
could be the nervous 'fig-leaf' gestures of your hands. It could
be your constant swaying and looking away from your audience, as
if you should be somewhere else far more important right at that
Whoever you are, whilst you may know your facts inside-out,
whilst your work ethic is the standard by which others are
measured, if you don't recognise and work on your personal
presentation habits you might eventually destroy all that you
have strived so hard to achieve.
Whatever your particular habit is, you can best find out what it
is by two great methods:
* Ask your colleagues what you do in face-to-face encounters
that annoys them
* Have someone video a presentation to a group that you give
We all have a communication habit that works against us in some
small way. But the challenge we face is that, left unattended,
they start adding up. The more you have, the more unprofessional
Here's eight interpersonal communication blunders that can wreck
your career over time:
* Owning a weak handshake: A weak handshake signals
uncertainty, hesitation, a lack of integrity, a lack of
confidence and a lack of courage. It quite possibly also
triggers subconscious responses in the recipient that cause them
to focus more and for longer on your handshake than on your
message. To butcher Nike's slogan, "Just don't do it!"
* Displaying a nervous giggle: Just like a weak handshake, the
nervous giggle, in the eyes and mind of your audience, turns you
into a child. No one seriously does business with a child.
* Over-using "I'm sorry": A 'killer' for undermining your
authority, a phrase like, "I need your report on my desk by 5
o'clock, sorry" just knocks your professionalism, your
communication and your career for six. You have no need to
apologise if you are the boss or the client. There is a place
for politeness in business, as there are for courtesy and
humility. But in the shark-eat-shark world of nature and
business, there is no room for the weak and mousy. Sorry to have
to break that to you...
* Standing passively: Crossed arms, crossed legs... they
signal just one thing—u—detachment, as if you really don't want
to be there, listening to the other person, but you have to.
Passively standing kicks down the building bricks of trust, over
time reducing your career reputation to rubble.
* Avoiding eye contact: Whilst too much staring at someone can
cause discomfort, so can too little. By not looking at your
audience (of one of one thousand) in the eye, you come across as
nervous and insincere. A reasonable period of eye contact is
between 4 and 7 seconds at a time, per person, especially when
you are talking to them.
* Playing with your hands: Wringing your hands, or playing
'fig leaf' is a sure way of conveying insecurity about yourself
or your message. And recently I was reminded by my Toastmasters
club colleagues of a habit of mine that I need to
break——twisting my wedding ring around my finger when I present.
My colleagues found themselves focusing more on my
ring-twiddling than my message.
* Speaking too softly: A habit that is a sure sign in the eyes
of others, that you are not confident about yourself, your
message or your authority to deliver it. You come across as
near-invisible, weak and insubstantial, as well as make yourself
difficult to be heard by those who are hard of hearing. And as I
get older, my hearing is definately getting worse—u—a legacy of
spending years in front of PA stacks as a lighting manager for
* Using qualifying words: This is quite possibly one of the
worst habits anyone could have. Absolutely nearly everyone
qualifies their words, and most often the effect is to dilute
the power and impact of your message. Seriously, using words
such as "kind of", "sort of" and "maybe" make even the smartest
of us appear unsure.
About the Author
When you match consumer psychology with effective communication
styles you get a powerful combination. At Hopkins-Business-
Communication-Training.com you can find the secrets to
communication success. At Hopkins we show you how to communicate
better for better business results.
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