Business communication: common types, features and errors
We live in a society in which a large part of the labour market is shaped by the business world. Whether they are large multinationals, SMEs, family businesses or even individual services, all of them must take into account that an essential element for their survival is coherence in the organisation and communication between its parts in order to join forces and move towards a common goal.
In this sense, we can say that business communication is one of the key elements when it comes to an organization , especially if it has a certain complexity, works properly and can adapt and survive. And it is about such communication that we are going to talk throughout this article.
What is business communication?
Business communication is understood as the set of processes carried out by a company or part of it in order to make information travel, both internally between different departments or posts in the company and if we talk about the company’s communication with the outside.
It is important to bear in mind that as a rule such communication does not only imply the ability to issue the information, but would also include the fact of receiving it: this is a mutual exchange of data .
Good business communication helps all members of the company to remain motivated and to make their actions known, reducing uncertainty for both workers and managers regarding the state of the company. It also facilitates interaction and improves the working climate , as well as improving productivity and allowing for a more optimal reaction to any eventuality.
The objectives of business communication are easily understood. On an internal level, on the one hand it allows a coherent organization to be produced and the information and results obtained by its different departments or workers to be shared, as well as to generate and transmit the objectives and the corporate vision of the company.
Also facilitates the understanding of what is expected from each of the workers , as well as the understanding of the realities that each of them must face.
It also makes it easier for everyone to work in the same direction, and to learn new ways of carrying out one’s responsibilities.
At the level of communication with the outside world, business communication is essential in order to contact the media and generate a positive image of the company itself, as well as to analyse the target audience and assess their needs. It also allows us to learn how to attract potential customers and assess the changes in the dynamic and fluid society in which we live, something that is fundamental in order to foresee and face possible difficulties and be able to adapt to the environment.
In order for communication to be efficient, it is necessary for the company itself to create effective channels for this, as well as to strengthen the transmission of information through its actions, generating means of communication and also working actively so that there is no uncertainty regarding what is requested and sought within the organisation.
It is also important to work on both formal and informal aspects, as well as to assess the needs and thoughts of the different workers. Empathy is also fundamental, as well as good regulation and planning of communication mechanisms.
Different types of business communication
Not all companies and organisations communicate in the same way, and there are different typologies and classifications of business communication according to various criteria.
1. Internal and external
The first one establishes the distinction between internal and external communication, being the former the one that takes place between the different departments and workers of the company itself and the latter the one that is aimed at establishing communication with the media.
2. Bidirectional and monodirectional
Likewise, we can also find styles of business communication with a greater or lesser level of interactivity, ranging from the most common two-way communication in which the sender and receiver interact and exchange information, to the one-way communication in which only one message is sent, generally from power stations, to a receiver that has no option to reply .
3. Ascending, descending and horizontal
Within the internal business communication of an organization, we can find three main types depending on the point where the information starts and the position between the sender and the receiver of the same communication. We speak of top-down communication when the communicative act is carried out from a sender with a greater position than that of the receiver.
When it is the subordinate who sends the message to his superior, we would speak of upward communication. In both cases we would be facing a type of vertical communication, that is, a communication in which the subjects that maintain the communicative act have an unequal relationship as regards power (there being a hierarchy among them).
The other major type of communication is horizontal communication, which is established between individuals who have the same position and are at the same level of the hierarchy.
4. Formal and informal
Finally, it should be noted that in business communication we can find the existence of two different types of communication channels: formal and informal. In the first one, technical aspects and those related to the tasks themselves are usually dealt with, being a type of communication that is respectful and focused on the reason and the objective of the company.
In informal communication, however, more flexible and natural communications are usually established , mainly focused on interpersonal relations and often having the greatest effect on labour welfare. The latter varies to a great extent depending on who is carrying it out and can transcend the labour scope, being difficult to control by the organisation.
Possible threats to good communication
Maintaining efficient business communication is essential, but it is not easy. It is necessary to take into account the existence of a high level of variability in the situations that may arise, as well as the existence of misunderstandings, misuses and difficulties in the communications of a company .
1. Lack of consistency
One of the factors that most influences whether the communication is truly useful is the credibility of the sender and the consideration shown to the receiver of the message. An example of this may be the existence of dissonances between what is said and what is done, with the senders not maintaining a way of acting consistent with the messages sent .
The latter can happen in any of the workers of the company, regardless of their hierarchical position or if they talk to a superior, subordinate or someone at the same level of the hierarchy, and it generates serious repercussions both for the subject (who depending on the situation could end up being badly considered or even fired) and for the organization (generating a lower level of trust in the person and in case of having a high position even in the organization).
In the same way, and for example in the case of large companies with a large number of departments, if there are divergences between the figures of authority or reference within the company, this could probably generate a situation in which the worker does not really know which leadership to follow , something that can generate frustration and distrust.
Great care must also be taken with the interpretability of messages, as ambivalence can lead to different departments or workers interpreting the opposite. What business communication seeks to do is precisely to ensure internal organisation and coherence, so that unclear messages with different interpretations can lead to uncertainty and doubts for the recipients of the message.
2. Lack of emotional connection
Another problem can be found in the way communication takes place. For example, in some organizations there may be a difficulty in generating a sense of bonding at an emotional level, which may lead to less commitment and productivity among workers and a lack of interest among users and a search for other alternatives. It is necessary to value that everything that is done , and even what is not done, is basically communicative.
Thus, it is not only the message itself that is important, but also the way in which it is transmitted: an email is not the same or offers the same sensations as a face-to-face meeting or the search for a real contact.
3. Not understanding the context
The adaptation to the current situation and to social advances , as well as to the particularities of the situation itself, should also be assessed . For example, in an increasingly globalised society in which new technologies allow immediate communication with a large number of people at the same time, it may be necessary to analyse and invest in communication policies that take into account the power of social networks and how to correctly transmit the desired information, in addition to assessing contact with potential clients in other regions of the world.
It is also necessary to assess the company’s own situation in order not to undertake more than what can be covered, taking into account the situation of the company as a whole.
Another problem could be the content of the messages that are broadcast: it is possible that although the communication exists it does not transmit or does not make the content that would need to be transmitted understood. It may focus on supplementary aspects and ignore, for example, the orientation or objectives that a given position should have or take for granted the existence of knowledge that has never been made explicit .
4. Isolation and lack of communication
Finally, perhaps the most important problem, and one that can be extrapolated from all of the above, is the possibility that there is no real communication.
The clearest example is the stable and continuous use of one-way communication, which can lead to a situation of stagnation and a lack of understanding of what is happening in the organization itself. Fortunately today it is the least used precisely because it is the least efficient and useful.
It is also possible that the different positions do not have adequate mechanisms to contact each other even if their opinions were to be heard, with less possibility of feedback or even that different parts of the company do not have contact with each other. It is necessary to actively stimulate such interaction.
- Andrade, Horatio. (2005). Internal organizational communication: process, discipline and technique. Spain: Gesbiblo, S. L.
- Brillouin, L.(2004). Science and Information Theory. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover.