Business as a term is sort of interesting when you think about it. In a way, everything that we do professionally is business in a sense, but when we think of business skills we very rarely think of craftsmen, seamstresses and artisans creating works to be sold to a public they rarely have to interact with. Rather, we are often referring to the business of business or the tools that are needed to succeed in rising in the professional world that doesn’t directly relate to a particular role in and of itself.
When described like this, the idea that executive communication is an important skill for “business” is an absolute no-brainer. After all, how can you succeed in the corporate world if nobody knows why your efforts are exceptional, and how can you sell someone something if you can’t convey what makes it uniquely desirable? We know that all of this is important, and yet, I believe it can still be argued to be an underrated skill.
So, as the title suggests, our goal today is to discuss how communication is underrated as a business skill, and why a greater focus on it will support you in your development as a businessperson.
People Like People
As human beings, we are often terrible at determining exactly what people are focusing on when they interact with us. We can get nervous about saying the wrong thing, we can worry that people have noticed the lingering coffee stain that has found a home on our crisp cream button-up, and in business, we can often find ourselves overcompensating in regards to how professional we feel we are expected to be on a moment-to-moment basis.
The fact is that business people are, for the most part, just people, and have the same impulses, wants, and drives that any other person is likely to have. In other words, when it comes to interviews, speaking with bosses, interacting with fellow employees, and even communicating with clients or potential clients, having a friendly, welcoming, confident way of communicating can get you quite far, even if there are more skilled people that would be better suited for your job.
Now, this isn’t to say that good communication skills can hide complete incompetence. Rather, if you are well-liked and people feel that you communicate well, they will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to other aspects of your performance. People don’t like to have to micromanage people by nature, and whether they’re aware of it or not, they will often find shorthand ways to gauge how competent they believe people to be, even if those ways aren’t always the most effective.
Talking the Talk
Have you ever met someone who seems like they can talk people into or out of anything? They aren’t always the most knowledgeable people, they aren’t always going to be the most experienced, but someone who can be charismatic and comfortable in their communication can be dangerously persuasive in business. This is what makes extroverts often fantastic fits for sales roles, but confidence and extroversion can only get you so far if you don’t have the ability to communicate effectively and speak in a “smart” manner.
As we’re discussing this, try to think about any time that someone has managed to convince you to buy a product, and think about how much less likely you would have been to engage with their service if they had clumsily fumbled their pitch. Being able to speak with clarity and authority on a subject is going to make people trust you on that subject, and if the subject just happens to be the product or service you’re trying to sell, then that’s just brilliant business.
The Nuance of Networking
For those who aren’t as deeply ingrained in the business world, the idea of corporate networking can seem a little, for lack of a better term, transactional. This isn’t entirely inaccurate, as many people will go into business scenarios with the sole goal of expanding their business opportunities, without any of the social considerations that would generally come from such an interaction.
Unfortunately, for those who have no interest in communicating with the people around them, networking in this way is always going to be a difficult proposition. People at networking events aren’t going to be sitting down with your resume and going through every achievement you’ve ever had. Rather, they will be engaging with you on a personal level first and foremost, with an interest in how you may be able to work together and collaborate. As has quickly become a trend in this piece, people don’t want to work with dot points about your life, they want to work with people. So, by learning to communicate, and speak with those around you, you have a much better chance at success.
The business world can be tricky to navigate, especially for those to whom communication doesn’t come naturally. With that said, there’s often a misunderstanding that communication means being the life of the party and the loudest person in the office, and that’s just not the case. If you can come across as nice, passionate, and engaged in what the other person is saying, then you’re going to have a much easier time. So, get out there, start talking to people, and begin strengthening your skills one step at a time.