Good communication lies at the heart of good business. Why? Because people can go into business for themselves, relatively few can go into business _by_ themselves. Whether you’re dealing with employees, contractors, vendors, clients, fans, or customers, you need good communication skills if you want your business to thrive. Good communication can help avoid misunderstandings, mistakes, and even costly lawsuits.

The Components of Good Communication

What does it mean to have good communications skills? From resumes to mission statements, the phrase gets thrown around easily and often. But what does it really mean?

At the most basic level, it means sharing vital information in a way that’s clear, without creating barriers or creating difficulties in understanding. It means knowing your audience and delivering a message to them in a way they can understand and act upon.

When it comes to interpersonal, verbal communication, this means good body language, adapting your speech to your audience, and having a good sense of your audience. In email and other nonverbal communication, it means solid sentence construction, making points concisely, and rigorous proofreading.

These are great skills to have, and can take you far by themselves. But anyone, from freelancer to CEO, stands to benefit from upgrading their communications skills. Here are a few ways you can take your interpersonal communication to the next level.

Don’t Overdo It

Why is this the first item on the list? Because many people feel like more communication is automatically better. That’s not necessarily true!

Laboriously long work emails, interminable meetings, and lengthy phone calls can be just as bad, or worse, than too little communication. Whether you’re sending someone a work text or starting a meeting, learn to hone your mission down to the basics.
Make Room for Anonymous Feedback

We’d all love it if our workplace were free of complications and issues. Transparency and openness are great components of any business. But some situations call for anonymity. Providing a means to communicate honestly with tools like OfficeVibe can help you stay on top of issues while preserving employee anonymity.

Hire a Communications Expert

In the age of social media, rapid-fire information, and omnipresent media, having on your team who specializes in communication can be a huge asset. It’s not enough to create a Twitter account and post the occasional coupon code. Some of the most the most thriving businesses have a solid social media strategy and someone with the skills to navigate today’s media landscape. With that said, there’s no reason you can’t also work on your own communications skills with a course or seminar.

Personalize

A great, simple way to take your communications to the next level is to make it personal — either in terms of expressing your own personality, tailoring your message to your audience, or (best of all) both. Use visual aids to help bring your message across, create dynamic examples instead of detailing abstract principles at length, and don’t be afraid to improvise and bring your own personality to the discussion.

Leave Room to Listen

It might go without saying that communication is a two-way street — but we’re going to say it anyway. Good communication includes leaving (and creating) space for others to share their thoughts. This means not only being open to the ideas of others, but actively creating an environment where they feel comfortable sharing those ideas. In situations like these, it helps to be mindful of how you’re communicating with others — not just body language and eye contact, but the tone and content of your message.

Be the Example

Most of all, good communication means providing inspiration and leadership for others. You can make the most killer presentation imaginable about how to communicate more effectively, but it won’t mean anything unless you can walk the walk and show others how it’s done. This likely means more planning and thoughtfulness when it comes to meetings and conversations, but the end result will be worth it.