Underlying Principles of Business Communications

Last Updated Aug 15, 2009 7:22 PM EDT

There've been quite a few BNET posts on how to present, speak, and email. There's Speak Like Obama, Write Powerful Emails, even How to Give a Killer Presentation (yes, I wrote that one). Remember the old proverb: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?" Well, it's the same with business communications.

There are underlying principles that are common to all modes of business communications. Unfortunately, they don't teach you this stuff in business school; I learned by observing dozens of CEOs and other executives. And over two decades, I developed my own set of principles.

Underlying Principles of Business Communications
Be direct and concise. Say what you mean and mean what you say. The same goes for writing. Make your point upfront with minimal preamble. Communicate as directly, concisely, and economically as possible, almost as if you have to pay for every word. Frankly, people do pay for every word - with their precious time and share of mind. Remember that.

Be honest and genuine. Words come from your mouth and fingers, but true wisdom and inspiration worth reading and hearing come from inside you. If you're honest and genuine about how you feel and express it well, people will listen and respond in kind. They will share and trust and feel comfortable doing business with you. In time, they will follow you, which is the essence of leadership. It occurs on an emotional level.

Be present and open. Experience the moment, the here and now. You can only learn from the past and plan for the future, but the present packs a tremendous amount of information and content. It's only here once, then it's gone. Listen carefully, not just to what people are saying or emailing, but for the meaning and feeling behind the words. That's truly priceless.

Be confident but measured. Be confident and strong in your views and statements, but remember that whomever you're communicating with has their own thoughts, feelings, perspectives, ideals, and objectives. Don't shove things down their throats or threaten. That might elicit proportionate responses you didn't expect or plan for. Only be apologetic when you've truly behaved in a regretful manner.

If you take the time to truly examine and understand the role of communications in business, you'll find that grasping underlying principals - versus following a set of rules specific to one form or another - will go a long way toward advancing your career and business objectives. These should provide a good starting point for any current or aspiring manager or executive. Got any others?