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Let's Talk about Communication (Part 1)

Recall the last time you had a conversation with someone that lasted more than 5 minutes. Was it in person with a family member? Were you on the phone or a video call with a colleague? Did you walk away with any new information that helped you somehow? Were you motivated or discouraged by the conversation?

Every single interaction we have in a day has the opportunity to move us forward or hold us back. Interpersonal communication can influence us no matter who it’s with and how it’s accomplished. This is why it’s important to surround ourselves with people who will challenge us to move forward and live optimistically.

two people talking about their communication plan that they created with Heather from Hockenberry Management Consulting

The Importance of Communication

The word “communication” triggers different thoughts and feelings for everyone, whether you’ve begged a significant other to communicate more, felt the strain of not talking to a close friend for a long time, or maybe the leadership at your company that claims team communication needs to improve. Communication is at the center of every significant, ongoing relationship, whether that is in the personal or professional realm.

To ensure we are on the same page, let’s think of communication as sending and receiving messages through verbal or nonverbal means.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Breaking this down further, we understand that verbal and nonverbal forms of communication exist. Think of verbal communication as anything spoken or written – literally what is said. Think of nonverbal communication as anything expressed without spoken or written words – how what is said is said.

Many messages are being sent and received at any given moment, meaning people are almost constantly communicating in some way, even when they don’t realize it. For example, if a friend tells you a story about their weekend at the lake, you may not verbally say anything. Still, your nonverbal communication could convey that you aren’t interested in their story, perhaps by avoiding eye contact, checking your phone during their story, etc.

I’m sure you’ve probably had the experience of talking to someone but notice that the other person doesn’t seem to care about what you’re saying. They may not realize that this is the message they are sending, but that is undoubtedly the message you receive.

For example, let’s say that the CEO of an organization announces to the entire team that they will have a holiday party for everyone on Monday after work. The CEO verbally communicates the event’s time, date, and details and says, “I’m very excited for the opportunity to spend more time with each of you at this celebration.” While verbally communicating these things, they could also be shifting their weight from side to side, fidgeting with their hands, and grimacing. This sends nonverbal messages to the audience, perhaps revealing that the CEO is nervous about interacting with the team or that they are not interested in attending. The audience receives verbal and nonverbal messages, interprets what they see and hear, and then determines what is being communicated.

Internal and External Communication

Speaking specifically from a business communication perspective, there are internal and external communications to account for.

Internal communication is simply the communication that happens within the business, usually between employees of that organization. This can include vertical and horizontal communication channels, from higher-level employees to/from lower-level employees (vertical) and communication between same-level employees (horizontal). For more information, check out our article about internal communication!

External communication is the communication that happens (usually) from the business outward. This communication comes from within the organization and is sent into the greater world beyond its employee base. This can manifest within organizations as public relations, corporate communications, marketing communications, customer relations, etc. While there are often people or departments devoted to creating external communication messaging, many messages are also being sent unintentionally from business organizations. For more information, check out our article about external communication.

A Focus on Business Communication

Communication can be a tricky thing. It’s always happening, and we aren’t always aware of it. It exists in personal and professional spaces. It’s single-handedly one of the most influential and essential aspects of life. Some still deny its importance, claiming it is an overrated topic. However, people who embrace the importance of communication and strive to improve their skills will find success. The same is true for businesses.

Pause and think about all the communication that occurs daily in a single organization. This includes employee-employee communication, employee-management communication, employee-customer communication, etc. The quality and importance of communication within an organization will directly impact the culture and success of that business.

The effect of communication is not limited to what is intended. Often, the unintended consequences of communication provide a better picture of the heart and culture of the company. In other words, communication is not always intentional, and often, we can learn the most from unintended messages as they reveal the true story.

That is why communication is so important! Companies can communicate with their customers, the community, and the public. Whether their messages are intentional or not, each reflects on that organization’s brand. People’s experiences and messages received create impressions. Those impressions help determine what they think of the company.

Have a Plan for Communication

While companies cannot control every communication that happens during a year/month/day/week/hour, the importance of having a plan is evident. The better the plan, the better the results. This applies to every area of business, but especially to communication. Organizations should create holistic internal and external communication plans and processes, which can be followed and carried out by the entire team.

Creating a plan gives you a better chance of sending messages on purpose, having your message received and understood as intended by the right audience, and growing your business.

Contact our team for more information or help with communication planning and strategies, as well as other communication topics.


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