The Art of Business Communication: How to Communicate Effectively in Business, Including Negotiating, Managing Conflict, and Persuasion
The art of conducting business conversations and negotiations in the modern world is integral to any person whose work involves direct contact with others. However, people often can’t correctly present their views about some company actions, adequately express their disagreement concerning specific contract clauses, or find a compromise with a partner or competitor.
If you want to avoid such cases and become a true virtuoso of your craft, like the protagonist of “Thank You for Smoking,” please consider the specifics of business conversations discussed in this article.
Ethical Issues in Business
So, as was already said in the introduction, business communication skills are essential for a modern person. Everyone needs it, for some people to a greater extent and others to a lesser extent. For example, a company director mastering the art of negotiations will help establish and develop business relations with partners and management.
The average office team member can communicate effectively within the workgroup. However, some people find it especially difficult to switch from ordinary to business communication because they are unfamiliar with its fundamental principles, ethics, negotiation, and preparation.
Consequently, when communicating with potential customers or partners, the latter may have a negative impression of the person, the company, and the product. The problem is pretty standard, and there is much brilliant literature to help develop business communication skills, such as “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by R. Fischer.
Suppose you don’t have time to read this book, but necessary negotiations are coming up. In that case, this article will give you a comprehensive and clear idea of business communication ethics, the art of negotiation, and conflict management. But first things first. Сommunication is the source of human experience. It helps people understand the world and others.
At the same time, communication is a multi-sided process, and the approaches should differ in situations. Business communication ethics is a specific field, which requires people to follow certain norms, both those general to ethics and those specific to a particular subject.
Probably everyone has encountered improper service, perhaps in a cafe or convenience store. Agree that in such a case, the desire to make a purchase or place an order instantly vanishes. Now imagine a similar situation, only when signing a contract for a couple of million. Most likely, successful negotiations are out of the question if the person doesn’t know the primary business communication concepts.
Moreover, there is even such a thing as a social contract, an informal agreement, or a default behavioral norms system regulating relations in the business sphere. Failure to comply with them threatens, at best, damage to reputation, at worst, damage to the business itself. Therefore, consider the following rules when communicating with customers and partners to avoid unpleasant situations.
✔️ Please don’t exaggerate your business importance: if your words don’t match the situation, it creates a tricky situation.
✔️ Always delineate your areas of responsibility when working with partners. Keep your personal life outside the office. In business circles, it is customary not to talk about it.
✔️ Keep your word. If you promise something to a customer or partner, then deliver it. Your reputation as a business person depends on it.
✔️ Adhere to business ethics based on honesty, tactfulness, and fairness.
Preparations to Negotiations
Remember: you have to prepare for any negotiation. Whether signing a multimillion-dollar contract or a job interview, preparation increases the chances of success. So the first thing to do is to answer the question, “What would make a negotiation successful?” You know your product’s pros and cons perfectly, so try to put yourself in the place of your interlocutor and understand what could interest them.
Directly there are three phases of negotiations.
- The first is preparation, which includes making contact, planning the meeting, and the actual practice (gathering information about a possible client/partner, creating a presentation, and preparing a speech).
- The second is negotiating.
- The third is reaching an agreement.
The information-gathering stage plays a vital role in situation awareness. You have, of course, previously studied the subject of the negotiations because your choice didn’t accidentally fall on this or that company or specific people. The task at this level is to find data on the negotiator from the other side to identify common interests since it is easier to agree when there is common ground.
In addition, knowledge of the goods and preferences of your interlocutor will allow you to choose the right place for the meeting. Knowing these nuances is especially important in international business.
Small Talk and Powers of Persuasion
The knowledge gained from preparing for negotiations can be helpful in another aspect — small talk. So, imagine that you were met at the entrance, and on your way to the conference room, you need to talk about something. It is where small talk comes in. Usually, it starts with a dialogue like, “So, you’d have no trouble getting here?”, “Yes, thank you, your secretary did a great job explaining how to get to your office.”
On the surface, it resembles the banalest conversation between two unfamiliar people. However, there is more than just making contact. One shows concern, thus making it clear that the meeting has a specific value. The second compliments a company team member, assessing their competence, then brings a logical bridge under the non-random choice of a possible companion.
In business communication, the words spoken matter, especially at the stages of acquaintance and first contact. So it would help not to underestimate small talk about the weather, sports, politics, and the latest business trends. For example, this negotiation stage plays a vital role in Japan.
A light conversation about culture or art can last up to an hour, after which the meeting will end with an offer to meet another time to discuss business matters. For the Japanese, the partner’s personality and character are essential attributes in the image of a business person. Therefore, during such conversations, they try to determine the honesty and openness of the person.
On this basis, they decide to develop connections. And suppose you often deal with the Japanese and want to know more about business communication in their environment. In that case, you can use a writing services review website to get this valuable information while we proceed. So there are different negotiation situations on which the parties’ decision depends.
When the possible partners are equally interested in developing the relationship, the discussion will likely go quickly, and a consensus will be found. The situation is different with those whose activities are based on sales and the need to market their goods. These people work in stressful situations, overcoming skeptical attitudes, and must be able to counteract denial. To this end, they are specially trained in persuasion, a valuable skill for everyone, as discussed below.
How to Reach an Agreement and Avoid Conflicts
Richard Schell, Professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics, and Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Academic Director for two Wharton executive education programs, and author of the successful book “Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People,” argues that agreement can be reached through six channels.
#1 Persuasion Based on Personal Interest in the Outcome
It means that your proposal can positively resolve issues or meet the needs of your interlocutor and the company in the most direct way. In a negotiation, each party has something that can benefit the other opportunity, resources, status, information, or authority.
#2 Authority and Power
You may have experienced a situation when a person more familiar with a particular subject wins a dispute over a less prepared one. This channel is used to run the company: the director gives an order, and the subordinates carry it out because they have received it from an authoritative source. By the way, the history of international relations knows many examples when the arrival and participation of a famous political figure saved seemingly deadlocked negotiations between the countries.
According to Richard Schell, sociologists define politics as the processes by which people work in groups to influence the affairs of organizations. People use political leverage within groups ranging from families to corporations. A particular political move may involve considering personal interests, operating authority, relationships, shared values, and a factual basis to convince others that they are right.
Your offer to sign a contract or buy a product must be based on a rational persuasion that is acceptable, if not to everyone, then to the majority. Rational persuasion is an attempt to influence a person’s attitudes, actions, or perceptions with reasons and evidence to justify the benefits of your offer. If the reasons are meaningful and the audience is willing to listen to reason, your chances of success will increase.
Visualization refers to appealing to your audience’s goals, values, and beliefs as the basis for promoting your message. For example, visual persuasion is often based on arguments that refer to your listeners’ spiritual and human goals. The purpose of such influence is to elicit the following thought in the listener: “By owning this product, I will be one step closer to my ideal of a successful person.”
Good personal relations with your colleagues, the ability to establish contact quickly, to enter a zone of trust, to find something in common between yourself and the client determine how good a person you are, and influence the attitude of the audience towards you, and, consequently, the desire to have an everyday business with you.
Who owns the information owns the world. For example, suppose you want to master the art of business negotiations. If so, you should acquire business ethics skills, learn proper behavior during meetings and discussions, enter the right psychological mood, and know about the methods and techniques that can be used to achieve the desired result. However, be sure that the results of the spent work will bring you much more fruit than you expected.