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5 top tips for effective business communication

Good communication is key to good business, but what most people don’t understand is that communication is something that we are all doing constantly, both verbally and non-verbally.

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Good communication is key to good business, but what most people don't appreciate is that communication is something that we are all doing constantly, both verbally and non-verbally. Scientists have, in fact, calculated that 85% of communication is done non-verbally, through body language, posture, manner, eye contact and attitude. We have all, no doubt, met someone to whom we take an instant like or dislike. But why does this happen and what can we do to improve these relationships? In business it is important to maximise all opportunities for successful interaction with customers, associates and staff. Here are a few hints to help build rapport with other people and improve your opportunities for success. 1. Establish how you can help the other person Find out what they need, what they are looking for from the relationship. Demonstrate that this is of importance to you too. Mean what you say. This establishes a genuine connection. 2. Be interested in what they have to say Ask questions and make sure that you listen to the answers. Perhaps even reflect the answers back to demonstrate that you are listening in a positive, constructive way. And remember what you have been told! It can be useful to make notes after a meeting - children's names, hobbies, points of particular interest. That way you can refer back to your notes prior to a meeting or phone call. Showing an interest in what someone thinks and feels helps to build a relationship with the person. 3. Stay on point It can be very easy to get distracted from the reason for a meeting by talk about secondary matters. This can be fine if both parties are interested and have the time to spare, but if it goes on for too long, it can distract away from the business in hand and appear unprofessional. 4. Misunderstandings happen Disagreements and misunderstandings sometimes occur in business, especially if things are going wrong, or if a person feels disrespected. It can be useful to firstly allow the complainant to vent their displeasure and then, after they have had their say (without any interruptions), get out a notepad and start to address each negative point in turn. It's interesting how often, by staying calm and non confrontational, the original gripes subside and the person becomes far less angry. Successful business is about establishing a win/win situation for both parties. By building good relationships with existing and potential future clients you can ensure that you remain a valued, trusted and respected contact. Your relationship with customers, clients, associates and staff is key. A strong relationship can ensure that they stay loyal when your competitors try to entice them away. 5. Don't be afraid of being honest One of my clients, who was regularly the top sales person in their company, was quite happy to say to a client "I can't help you today. What you have is better than what I am here to promote." That way the potential client really trusted the judgement and advice being given and it built up confidence for future meetings. About the author Susan Leigh is a long-established counsellor and hypnotherapist. To find out more, visit Susan's website at