The 12 Most Unexpected Business Communication Tips

The 12 Most Unexpected Business Communication Tips

Communication is at the core of all our relationships, both business and personal. During the past five years, communication — and technology — have undergone the most significant changes and shifts that impact our daily lives. The term “revolution” often feels like an understatement.

Business communication must be aligned with the pace of our new world, or it is ineffective. We continue to be bombarded with irrelevant information and messages that we didn’t ask for. We beep. We run around with gadgets. We share breaking news. We make videos. We sleep with our smartphones. We post our innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and triumphs in 140 characters. We have very busy thumbs.

We’re at the mercy of our warp speed digital communication.

As much as things have changed from the clunky rotary phones hardwired to the wall, many fundamentals of business communication remain. Here are the 12 most important business communication tips you’ll ever need. A sweet and timeless convergence of the old and new.

1. Your Attention = A Hot Commodity

Back in the dark ages of 1971, Nobel Prize winning economist Herbert Simon wrote: “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Did Simon have a crystal ball? How did he know the attention tsunami was coming? In ’71, there was no Google, information superhighway, or text messages. Carefully guard your time, attention, and mind.

2. Accept the Word “I”

It doesn’t have to be self-serving and arrogant. Art Petty, who runs a management and leadership consulting firm, says we can use the word “I” for empowerment, active listening, and accountability. “I am responsible for this outcome.” “Here’s what I understand about your opinion on this matter. Am I correct?” “I could use your help.”

3. Rapport is Critical in Conflict and Camaraderie

In our ‘crazy busy world’, it’s essential to know how to connect and engage with all types of people and personalities. This is especially true if you want to resolve a conflict and build consensus. Rapport is the bond that brings us together.

4. Practice H.O.T. Communication

That’s Honest, Open, and Two-way. That’s according to business writer and blogger Dan Oswald. He says the H.O.T. approach is an effective and powerful force. Amen, Dan.

5. Influence comes in Many Different Forms

It may be a tweet, blog post, webcast, or handwritten note. Our words wield power. With social media and other technology, your influence (impact) can affect people in other countries. People you’ve never met and never will. Choose your words carefully.

6. Develop Charisma

Charisma is defined as appeal, charm, magnetism, and allure. It’s a magical quality that most leaders possess. These are people who look and act like winners. They are kind, empathetic, have a light sense of humor, and are known for their strength of character. Charisma isn’t connected to money, fame, or power. Consider the wealthy and well-known people who are recluses. They lack that special sparkle in their personality.

7. Speak up or Shut Up: Know the Difference

Not every statement, conversation, or accusation warrants a response. Silence is an extremely powerful communication tool.

8. Convey Your Thoughts with Clarity

Whether you’re writing or speaking, get right to the point. No one has time to figure out what you may be trying to articulate. Clarity trumps confusion every time.

9. Learn the Fine Art of Public Speaking

Speaking requires solid communication skills and self-confidence. Be willing to share your expertise and knowledge with others. Yes, this is another form of content.

10. Ask Good Questions

If you need good information, ask good questions. Get others thinking, feeling, reacting, and involved. Be curious, and of course, be sure to listen to the response.

11. Tap Into Silent Listening

This new trend in communication requires us to (mentally) slow down and stop the noisy, unrelenting negative soundtrack that plays in our heads. Silent listening means you are free of distractions, judgments, and response planning. It requires us to be fully present and in the moment. When you obey the mantra, “Wherever my feet are, my head is,” your business and personal relationships will be transformed.

12. Understand the Emotions of Communication in Marketing

Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, writes about ‘The Golden Circle’ and how most companies and people try to sell their ideas based on what their product or service is. Then they talk about how it will work. But the most successful are those who can connect with the public on an intimate level. These folks begin at the center of the circle, where the ‘WHY’ resides. The ‘Why’ is what we believe and why we believe it. The ‘What’ and ‘How’ come later.

Embracing our creative community by participating in it is crucial to business success. Social media has given us access to people and decision makers that we would never have been able to communicate with before. You’ve got the platform. There are no gatekeepers. It’s time to refine your communication skills. You must begin now or you’ll be left behind.

Photo courtesy of Hendrik Speck, used under creative commons license. Some rights reserved.

Susan Young

Susan Young works with businesses and organizations to create fresh, concise, and compelling content that’s delivered through social media channels. She is a news, social media, PR, and communications professional with 26 years of experience. An award-winning news reporter and entrepreneur, Susan can be reached through her consulting company, Get in Front Communications.

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Great list Susan. Thanks for sharing this. Asking good questions is very important because it makes a conversation engaging. However, we should assure that we are asking not to get something for ourselves, but to give something as a help for them.


Great advice tips. My only question is HOW do you develop charisma? I wonder if that's like singing - you either got a good voice or you don't. Of course, we all can learn things, but some are just inbred! That said, these tips will help anyone's charisma. Learn from others. Listen. And, I love your "I" one in which you can turn around the self-centeredness context of it to something bigger and better!


I love #7. Resisting the urge to speak is a high quality art form and a muscle we can all exercise to great strength. It's absolutely okay if we stay silent. We may learn something unexpectedly lovely by doing so.


Wow Susan. First, it's great to see you here. Second, I really like that concept of silent listening. I know that I have gotten very bad about responding too quickly, whether offline or online. I am preparing my retort even as the person is starting their third word. Can you truly hear someone if you are already plotting your response? Probably not.

Fantastic advice!


@BruceSallan "Be charismatic" is like saying "be funny". I think the best way to be "charismatic" (whatever that is) is to be authentic. I love Susan's post, and I think that the only way to be magnetic and alluring is to be yourself. After all, what else is there? Reclusive or outgoing, staying true to yourself is the only choice. What we call "charisma" is simply a by-product...maybe just the same way that the funniest stuff is often the most honest. What do you think, Bruce?

Latest blog post: What's Your Story?


Charisma is a funny thing (sorry...had to do it!). We all have our own notions of charisma and what it means to be charismatic. These will differ by individual and community. For example, some may find George Clooney charismatic...but others may not. The Comic Con loyalists may find the Wachowski brothers (they did the Matrix series) charismatic...but others won't. The community you hope to serve and how they define charisma is what matters. Be careful not to assume that there is a universal definition.

BTW...we all have charisma...we just need to find the people that agree ;-).


@westfallonline I try to tackle "organizational charisma" in my new book (warning: shameless plug) Bigger than the Widget...hopefully out soon! My belief is that organizations do not need to have their charisma defined by the individuals or leaders of the group. Organizations can have their own charisma. For example, NASA had unbelievable charisma for many years and long after JFK died. It is one of the things that can make companies "bigger" than their products.


@Jtaylor I like your thinking! Charisma is a word like "motivation", or "jealousy". Technically called 'nominalizations', these are words that can only be experienced and observed in action (like most emotions). Your motivation is elusive and unknown, but if you just kissed her I can make an educated guess. The real question is: Can a company be charismatic? I think that Susan's point is that, by "Starting with Why", companies (and Clooneys) find an authentic point that resonates with others. I love your comment, "we just need to find the people that agree." Well said - that's the best definition of charisma I've heard yet!

Latest blog post: What's Your Story?


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