Throughout our professional lives, we are always prompted to communicate with one another on a professional level. Typically, we communicate in order to accomplish specific goals. Specifically for business, communicating with one another is vital because it helps groups work together to accomplish certain goals. Undoubtedly, effective business communication is not as simple as it sounds. There are many diverse elements to consider. Whether it is electronic, in person or a hand written letter, all of the details as well as the overall message, down to the tone, can make or break the effectiveness. Luckily, utilizing proper communication techniques and following trends can help dispel some of the myths and avoid pitfalls.
As an entrepreneur who coordinates manufacturing, distributing and sales of custom furniture from Mexico to wealthy clients in the United States, proper business communication is a vital life line in my overall success. Because I am exposed to a wide variety of audiences in both oral and written contexts, certain rules of engagement follow closely. By far, audience evaluation is the most important aspect of my job. Understanding and discerning gatekeepers, primary audiences and watchdogs require that I am a good listener at all times (Brinkley ch. 2). All sales and marketing is a primary audience typically through E-Mail for quotes and thank you letters. Business growth requires that I am well trained on who the gatekeepers are and how to bypass them. Finally, oral communication in Mexico with locals requires not only strong communication skills, but it also requires cross-cultural perspectives so that tasks can be accomplished. These strong communication skills help manage daily activities because it arms me with the knowledge of my target audience so that I can not only avoid pitfalls, but also use the right context and means at all times in hopes of establishing credibility and building successful and lasting relationships.
In my current work environment, many trends listed within the Brinkley text are vital to my success. For instance, “networking with others in [my] office and in town and working with others in workgroups [is] crucial to [my] success” (Brinkley Ch. 1). Since my income is based on how well I mange my relationships, this trend has been super important. Even if I have the best product or service, it serves little good if I do not have the right people in place to continue workflow. Another major trend that is evident is the use of praise for my contractors and partners. While relying on so many weak social relationships to do such important tasks for me, it is vital that I maintain the “kind of image that makes people want to do business with you” (Brinkley Ch. 1). This translates into finding proper communication channels that are appropriate for the context. Understanding when oral versus written communication should be used to deliver messages must always be accounted for (Brinkley Ch.2). This requires evaluating the needs and values of the audience before even writing a message.
To exemplify, building goodwill with thank you letters is a requirement for such unorganized and casual sales in the private sphere like mine. By understanding the purpose of the message and then implementing it accordingly, I was able to secure more contract and loyal contractors (Brinkley Ch. 1). In establishing goodwill with each respective audience, I am always prompted to deliver the right context to avoid “creating a poor image because of poor audience analysis.” (Brinkley Ch. 1). For instance, if I am speaking with a contractor from Mexico, it is poor planning to speak fast and with vocabulary not appropriate for an inexperienced English speaker. In this case, not only would I lose clarity in terms of context, but I also risk losing the relationship because I am not abiding by the basic rule of giving respect (Brinkley Ch. 3). The intended goodwill can quickly turn into an insult, resulting in a loss of an important partner.
Based on this knowledge of my audience and other trends, the most effective modes of communication come from great planning and constant awareness of the audience. Within the sales context, the messages must evaluate the needs of the audience and also inform the client of the price (Brinkley Ch. 1). This can only be accomplished by following strict rules. One of the primary rules I utilize comes from Karen Hochberg’s Follow Eight Rules For Developing Effective Messages. First and foremost, I always understand that “messages are ideas you want your audience to understand or take action on” (Hochberg 2007, 1). This goes back to writing for a purpose and following through. If I am attempting to sell furniture to a family in order to liquidate certain products, I typically plant the seed that the item is deprecated and will not be available again. I want the potential buyer to take action and understand the need for the product directly. I will take a direct approach and be more assertive only if the person is a judging type in which they “like to come to closure so they can move on to something else” (Brinkley Ch. 2). Again, this required both in depth audience analysis, an appraisal of their psychographic profile as well as a planned message to emphasize immediate action.
Together, these examples illustrate the intense impact that details have on effective business communication. In communicating with a wide variety of audiences, paying attention to demographics, culture, psychographics and relevant trends has been vital to my success. Tools like audience analysis and deciding the proper means to communicate a message are excellent tools. The sales letter, thank you letter and performance appraisal are very different types of communication that thus require special attention. Ultimately, effective business communication relies on these trends and tactics.
Hochberg, K. (2007). Follow Eight Rules for Developing Effective Messages. ONS Connect, 1, 1-2.
Locker, K. (2008). Business and Administrative Communication, Eight Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.