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The 5 business communication skills worth perfecting

August 14, 2023 - 17 min read

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The importance of business communication skills 

5 essential business communication skills

6 effective business communication techniques

Final tips for improving your communication skills

How to include business communication skills in job applications

Make sure everyone gets the memo

Communication likely takes up a big chunk of your daily to-do list. 

A typical workday often includes one-on-one meetings and team check-ins. You must also field client or requests, manager questions, and regular Slack notifications. For a brief moment, maybe you see a satisfying “0” in your inbox. And at the end of the day, you make the final touches on assignments due the next day before popping into a weekly team wrap-up. 

Every communication requires the right messaging. And it’s not just about what you say but how you say it. A convincing elevator pitch requires confident body language and eye contact, and conflict resolution calls for logical and empathetic language.

Effective business communication skills are built on overlapping soft skills, like cultural awareness, active listening, and assertiveness. Learning the essentials of communication for each medium and adapting your message accordingly helps you avoid miscommunications and safeguard your productivity.

The importance of business communication skills 

According to a 2022 report by Grammarly and The Harris Poll, poor communication costs $12,506 per employee yearly — and this number is growing as work becomes increasingly virtual. Widely adopted communication channels like messenger apps, Google Drive, and remote work platforms all present new learning curves.

According to the same survey, time spent on written communication increased by 18% between 2022 and 2023. Yet the effectiveness of written correspondence experienced a 12% decline. This means the average worker spends more time drafting ineffective business writing.

Humans use more than words to communicate. Experts estimate that 70% of your communication is nonverbal. Advocating your personal boundaries, landing a sale, and making a good first impression all depend on more than the words you choose. And body posture, facial expressions, and gestures all send messages to your listener, whether in person or in a virtual boardroom.

The methods you develop to communicate effectively are among the most important soft skills in business because honing them ensures you send the right message.

5 essential business communication skills

To truly acknowledge the importance of effective communication, you must constantly habituate new skills. Here are five that offer immense professional development

1. Collaboration skills

No one works in a vacuum. Even introverted remote workers often collaborate with clients, managers, and teammates. But your collaboration skills help you effectively work with diverse teams, properly delegating tasks and respecting several decision-making styles

One of the strongest pillars of collaboration is open communication, which involves ensuring you and your team respect and encourage all perspectives to foster trust and stimulate creativity. Work on your flexibility, empathy, and active listening skills to encourage open communication.

2. Negotiation skills

You might flex your negotiation skills without even realizing it. Negotiation extends beyond discussing work contracts or bargaining salaries and perks. At the core of negotiation is conflict resolution — two parties with different needs trying to find a mutually beneficial solution. 

Whether requesting a more flexible work schedule or delegating tasks to your team, work on understanding everyone’s position and finding win-win outcomes for all. Flexing negotiation skills to accomplish this might mean:

  • Offering data to showcase your productivity levels from home
  • Speaking confidently to assure the listener you have their best interests at heart
  • Listening attentively to and addressing others’ reservations.

3. Presentation skills

Knowing what you want to say is one thing — effectively delivering information is another. You need to be clear and compelling to grab your audience’s attention and ensure they retain important details. 

Effective presentation skills fuse several communication styles, including visual design and verbal and nonverbal communication. You use these proficiencies together to successfully share a message. 

Audit your presentation skills with a trusted friend or coworker, asking for feedback on your body language, talking speed, and articulation. And always practice your speeches beforehand so you feel more familiar with the content and can put more energy into your stance and vocal tone.


4. Listening skills

While speaking and writing might immediately come to mind regarding strong communication skills, listening is essential to productive teamwork and decision-making. Strong listening skills express that you care and are retaining important information. And when people think others will actually listen to them, they might feel more confident sharing their opinions and ideas.

Improve your listening skills by first reflecting on how you currently use eye contact, what tends to distract you, and whether you have any bad habits like interrupting others. Then, practice saying less and listening more.

5. Feedback skills

Offering and receiving constructive criticism in a professional and growth-mindset manner contributes to both personal and team growth. Everyone has room to improve but can only do so if they receive valuable feedback.

Ensure your feedback delivery doesn’t obscure the message’s content. Good feedback empowers, and insensitive feedback diminishes trust and self-confidence. 

Emotional intelligence comes in handy when giving and receiving criticism. You can use your knowledge of your own emotions to better understand how others might take your input, adjusting how you share this information to fit each person. And understanding another person’s good intentions might make criticism feel more valuable and less personal.

6 effective business communication techniques

Ready to push your work communication skills to their fullest potential? Here are six methods for polishing your business soft skills:

  1. Know your audience: Understanding your listener is the first step toward effective communication. Tailor your message to suit the audience’s subject knowledge, interests, and motives. 

  2. Adapt the message: Besides understanding your audience, switching your vocabulary, tone, and delivery for each situation prevents misunderstandings. Read the room to avoid crossing professional boundaries or leaving a bad impression.

    This requires adaptability — an essential communication skill for leaders — since you’ll sometimes have to adjust on the spot. Maybe humor relaxes a tense client, but if a recently laid-off employee enters the room, making jokes probably isn’t appropriate.

  3. Control your emotions: Emotional regulation is the ability to exert control over your emotions. This can help in professional communication settings, like when trying to remain professional during a coworker conflict or repressing frustration in front of a client.

    You might also learn to regulate nerves so presentations go more smoothly or reduce anxiety triggers to enjoy a more worry-free workday. 

  4. Prepare your delivery: Even natural communicators can benefit from prep work. Whether you’re prone to becoming tongue-tied or not, thinking through the intention and organization of your communication ensures clarity and coherence. You might practice a presentation with a friend or prepare answers to interview questions.

  5. Handle conflict with respect: Conflict isn’t inherently negative. You aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye with everyone, and opposing perspectives can foster unexpected and innovative solutions.

    Handling differences respectfully helps keep interactions constructive, preserves relationships, and sets a standard for good communication methods that will permeate throughout the company. 

  6. Time your delivery: Good things come to those who wait — and communication is no different. Your message’s impact often depends on when you deliver it. If you need feedback on a report, asking a coworker during a chaotic day likely won’t yield high-quality criticism.


Final tips for improving your communication skills

Small actions can have a significant impact. Improve your communication skills every day by following these tips: 

  • Ask questions: Good questions serve many purposes: they clarify potential misunderstandings, encourage thoughtful answers, and express your engagement and interest.
  • Raise your hand: When it comes to public speaking, practice makes perfect. Take advantage of opportunities to present your ideas, like in meetings or during networking events.

  • Work on your writing: Every email, internal communication, and LinkedIn post is an opportunity to flex your written communication skills. Take the time to proofread and read your messages aloud to ensure you present yourself professionally and convincingly.

  • Stand tall: Your body posture says a lot about how you’re feeling. Slouching might signal insecurity, while standing tall expresses confidence. Ask for feedback from friends and coworkers to gain an outsider's perspective on your body language, practicing adjustments as necessary. 

  • Put yourself out there: Each interaction is a chance to improve your communication skills. While networking expands your professional circle, you also gain practice adapting your communication style to different people and situations. Build a networking plan that includes conversing with someone new each week.

How to include business communication skills in job applications

According to a LinkedIn hiring trends analysis, hard skills grab a hiring manager’s attention, but soft skills build their interest. Showcasing your job-specific technical skills means they know you can complete your tasks. But you must express your communication skills so they understand how you’ll fit in with the team and the overall company culture.

Here are three ways of showing off your communication skills to a potential employer. 

1. On your resume

Your resume skills section is the most obvious place to include communication skills. Using action verbs and demonstrable business communication examples, you can also tie them into your work history. Here are a few examples: 

“Onboarded 15 new team members on company best practices and workflow programs, cutting onboarding costs by 15% and improving new employee productivity by 25%.” 

“Negotiated with key vendors, leading to an 18% decrease in yearly expenditures.”

“Authored a new system for receiving employee feedback, resulting in a 45% increase in employee satisfaction scores.”


2. On your cover letter

An effective cover letter doesn’t simply revisit your resume’s greatest hits. It’s your moment to highlight your most relevant achievements. 

Here’s how to work your communication skills into a cover letter: 

“My more than 10 years of experience as a project manager has shown me that open communication and collaboration are fundamental to a company’s success. In my most recent role at X Company, I led a diverse team of 15 people across four departments.

I created information-sharing systems, scheduled regular interdepartmental meet-ups, and led brainstorming sessions that encouraged diverse perspectives and creativity. And last year, our team’s streamlined communication style helped us complete all projects ahead of schedule and reduce expenditures by 10%.”

3. During the interview

An interview is your moment to demonstrate your communication skills in person. Practice answers to common interview questions, using language from the job description in your answers. This preparedness helps you organize your thoughts, respond to unexpected questions more calmly, and demonstrate your care for the position.

Make sure everyone gets the memo

Communication is involved in nearly every workplace task. Your words, posture, and emotional intelligence skills all impact the success of your work. That’s why improving your business communication skills is so important.

Building up your arsenal of effective communication strategies means you can confidently enter every conversation knowing you’ve done the hard work.

Elevate your communication skills

Unlock the power of clear and persuasive communication. Our coaches can guide you to build strong relationships and succeed in both personal and professional life.

Elevate your communication skills

Unlock the power of clear and persuasive communication. Our coaches can guide you to build strong relationships and succeed in both personal and professional life.

Published August 14, 2023

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships.

With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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