We know what communication is – one person talking to another, roughly – but what about business communication? It’s so much more than you think.
Business communication is much more than sharing information between people within a business that is performed for the commercial benefit of the company. It also includes contacts outside of your business, such as customers.
So, to explain it further, eCard Shack is here to help detail what is meant by business communication, what’s involved, the different types and benefits of it. We’ll also tell you how to set-up your own business communication process.
Read on to find out what business communication is and how it can help your company…
What exactly is business communication?
Business communication is critical for effectively running and managing your business. It is an essential element in the success of any business.
Business communication is the process of transferring information from one person to another, within and outside the business environment. It can affect change throughout the whole business through different views, ideas, and news.
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Without an effective communication process or strategy, running a business is much more difficult. With so many industries being extremely competitive, most companies stay on the cutting edge of communication technology to ensure that they are receiving and sending clear messages.
You should have internal and external communication processes, marketing and sales communications. Some examples of business communication include:
- Email communication
- Video calls and meetings
- Phone meetings and calls
- Face-to-face meetings
- Suggestion boxes
What are the types of business communication?
The ‘types’ of business communication are split into four categories based around the direction of the communication.
These are based around the communication within your business and externally. Three are for internal communication, and we’ve briefly outlined them below:
- Top-down Communication: these are communication messages passed down from the top of the business hierarchy to the bottom, such as from the MD to employees. They can rely on a “need-to-know” basis.
- Bottom-up Communication: the reverse of the above, these are messages that are passed up through the business hierarchy from the bottom up. An example is an employee providing feedback or reports to a senior manager.
- Lateral Communication: communication between those who are on the same level in the business hierarchy where information doesn’t move up or down a chain of command. An example would be a message to a colleague.
We’ve discussed them further below with some examples…
This type of business communication is anything that comes from a ‘subordinate’ to a manager or someone further up the company’s hierarchy.
Managers need information that flows upwards to have in order to have a bigger picture of the operations of a business. Most communication that flows from the bottom up are reports, surveys and templates to help their staff provide complete information. For example, a report may ask for feedback, such as a summary of problems that management would like to track.
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You can sum-up and see what makes bottom-up internal business communication by:
- A bottom-to-top structure, such as staff to managers
- This type of communication is participative.
- The main purpose of bottom-up communication is to provide feedback, suggestions, requests, or pass on concerns to managers.
- The information flows from the lower level to the upper level of a business.
This is any type of communication that comes from a manager or senior business member to a lower staff member – the reverse of bottom-up.
This communication sees information flow from top-level management to employees and can take the form of an email, letter or memo. This type of communication should remain professional and clear – as many are instructions. An example would be a message regarding new operations. There should be no room for interpretation and the language should explain exactly what will happen.
This type of business communication can also be in oral form. These would include different face-to-face conversations, phone communication and regular meetings.
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You can always tell what makes a top-down internal business communication by:
- Its top-to-bottom structure, such as upper managers to staff.
- This form of communication is a directive – instructions.
- The main purpose of top-down communication is to provide business objectives, plans, procedures and instructions to employees.
- The information flows from the upper level to the lower level of a business.
Lateral communication involves employees talking, messaging and emailing with co-workers in the office.
This communication can also include cross-department communication or just internal department discussion. This is particularly the case when working on large projects that involve numerous stakeholders. An example would be answering questions sent by different departments or providing updates on reports.
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Lateral communication is either verbal or written communication. You should always encourage staff to communicate and be respectful at all times. Lateral communication is crucial to achieving the desired results on a project for your business.
You can tell the characteristics of lateral business communication by:
- Its almost side-to-side structure, colleagues speaking to each other.
- This communication is cooperative.
- The main purpose is to provide updates, answer questions or help co-workers.
- Information flows from each employee to the other, until it needs to be sent to a senior manager when it becomes bottom-up communication.
External communication is any communication that leaves your business and is sent to customers, investors or partners.
External communication can also involve regulatory agencies or government bodies. This is where your marketing will come in handy – branding, PR, social media – it all forms part of your external communication. This form of communication can be oral or written and includes approaching potential customers. In some instances, you will need to respect people’s time by getting to the point and stating your request.
How can business communication help my company?
There are numerous ways businesses communication can help you, from benefitting staff to improving efficiency from employees.
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We’ve outlined some key points below:
- Increases employee productivity
- Eliminates excessive emails that can cause frustration
- Improves departmental communications, helping projects
- Reduces employee turnover which can be caused by continuous breakdowns in communication
- Allows employees to feel empowered and valued
- Builds a better company culture
- Can help lead to more customers