Communication is one of the most essential skills to master at all levels of a business organisation. Whether you are a company leader or you’re hoping to land your first role, the ability to get your message across effectively can play an important role in your success.
Why businesses run on good communication
Communication helps all teams and departments function efficiently. Great communication can ensure that everyone understands the shared goals, and what is expected of them and of their teammates. It can help to build a strong workplace culture, a brand, and a positive environment for open discussions. Conversely, weak communication can lead to misunderstandings, disunity within teams and between departments, lowered morale, productivity issues – the list goes on. Simply by making considered improvements to your written and spoken communication styles, you can make a significant impact on your own performance as well as that of the wider company.
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Five business skills that are really communication skills
Some of the most in-demand business skills come down to one attribute: being a good communicator. Here are five key examples.
You might not consider negotiating to be a part of your job remit, but in fact, we all have to do it from time to time. Do you feel confident enough to assert your worth in a salary review, or to ask for flexible hours? How about requesting extra resources for your team, or discussing fair targets? Negotiations at work can also include dealing with grievances, either in the form of a complaint or a conflict. Learning how to reach an agreement that both parties are satisfied with takes practice, and a willingness to explore the needs and interests of the two sides to find a good solution. The best way to view this type of interaction is not as a competition, but a collaboration.
It’s not uncommon to be nervous about giving presentations at work, but with preparation and an understanding of your audience and objectives, you might be surprised at how engaging you can be. The ability to speak clearly and confidently in public is one of the skills most prized by employers, and it includes presenting remotely as well as standing up in front of a physical audience. We can assume that you know your subject – that’s why you have been asked to share your knowledge. The skill is in making a connection with those who wish to take action in some way. Learn more on presentation skills, and consider a workshop on professional presentation skills.
Networking and relationship building might be a requirement of your role, or you may just wish to feel more confident in making new contacts. The truth is: most people find networking a bit awkward, but avoiding it could be a missed opportunity to advance in your career. Before you show up to an event, think about how to deliver a snappy pitch, how you will start, maintain and end a conversation, and (this one is important) remind yourself to be interested as well as interesting.
Excellent managers possess strong communication skills. Remember that communication is a two-way dialogue; listening is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in business (and probably in life!). Skills like empathy, rapport building (interpersonal skills), assertiveness, conflict resolution, and providing constructive, motivating feedback will assure your employer that you are equipped to build and lead a successful team.
Client relationship management
Much like team management, the ability to make your clients feel valued, heard, and supported, as well as the tact to push back when needed, is a learned skill that employers will likely want to see evidence of if you are applying for a relevant role. If you are already managing client accounts and running into some issues, it may be that communication is failing. Improving your Business English could help to strengthen your client relationships and give you greater confidence in managing their needs.
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How the British Council’s Business English course can help
Our Business English courses are designed for working professionals who want to be able to use English in the workplace with greater fluency and effectiveness. Designed to help you communicate confidently, network professionally and write accurately, our classes can be delivered part-time at one of our centres, or in a 1:1/Small Group setting at flexible times and in a location of your choice.
Benefit from personalised content linked to your career and learning aims, coupled with individual feedback on presentations, speeches, emails and reports. Our students also receive exclusive access to MyNetwork networking events and workshops, where you can expand your professional network and practise your skills immediately in a relaxed environment.
Find out more about improving your business English and professional communication skills with the help of our highly qualified and experienced teachers.