Communication makes your business go ’round. It helps you manage relationships, score clients, and engage your staff. Forbes describes intentional and purposeful communication as powerful enough to shift a business’s culture and engagement. However, they specify that while employees have some responsibility in communicating — that responsibility starts with leaders. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, that’s you!
So, how do you improve your communication tactics in business? Maybe you’ll clearly communicate your brand values and workflows in training documents. Our operations services can help with that. But one solid way to improve your communication is to build some self-awareness. What’s your communication style? And which ways do you exercise different communications tactics? We’ll cover all that in this guide. Continue reading to learn more!
What are the 4 business communication styles?
Leadership expert Mark Murphy identified four business communication styles: analytical, intuitive, functional, and personal. Each one demonstrates a person’s values when they give and receive information. Mark specifies that while the four are distinct, neither is better than the other. In fact, the most communicative and savvy business owners understand all four styles and adapt their style to fit different audiences and business goals, but more on that later. Let’s take a deeper look at the four communication tactics below.
Overthinkers, unite! You might just be an extra analytical communicator. You’re not swayed by emotions or wishy-washy promises. You dish out conversation where cold, hard facts are the main course. Most businesses benefit from this communication style. Weekly meetings are thorough and clear, with every single task laid out with corresponding performance metrics and data to back up a decision. In other words? Unwavering clarity.
Marcus Fernandez, KFB Law attorney and co-owner, advocates for clarity in all communications:
“Be clear and direct to avoid potential miscommunication or confusion, [and] utilize active listening techniques to ensure that the other party has accurately understood what is being said.”
Similarly, analytical communicators don’t accept empty promises. Think of the VC investor. One might jump into a cool new company because they just “have a feeling” about it — and sometimes that company will faulter. On the contrary, the analytical communicator wants to see numbers, track records, and credentials — without the cold, hard data, nothing’s happening.
The downside? Analytical communicators spend a lot of time weighing things in their heads. Compassion and empathy don’t come as easily, which could come off as distant or unsupportive. On top of that, analytical communicators might not have as much patience for different types of communicators, particularly those who are “feelers”.
Things analytical communicators say:
“I want to increase our customer resolution rate by 20% in the next two months. Historical data shows that we can do that with more frequent training sessions and on-call staff for peak periods.”
Pro tip for the analytical communicator:
Infuse a little TLC into your customer and employee communications. A compliment or motivational encouragement goes a long way, especially from the analytical people!
Have you ever met a brilliant person who you could tell has a huge vision? But when you try to garner an explanation or plan, you hear crickets or a jumble of jargon? Or an entrepreneur that sees next year’s innovations clear as day, even if the details and processes aren’t so clear at all?
You’re dealing with an intuitive communicator. These leaders trust their instincts and often dream big. They dared to imagine something grand, and that helped them achieve their success.
But if you’re the intuitive type and can’t quite outline steps to reach your goals? You might lose some of your audience to wishy-washiness — especially the ones who are paying. That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your vision. Instead, retrace your steps a bit to imagine your process better. You might even hire additional support, like a project manager or business consultant, to help iron out the details.
Things intuitive communicators say:
“Crypto is huge right now. We got to adopt it into our business strategy. It will make us millions; I just know it.”
Pro tip for the intuitive communicator:
Don’t lose your sense of wonder or shine. The most successful business owners need to think big, after all. Just pause every so often to make sure your audience is on the same page, and learn how to actively listen so that you can communicate even better.
Project management babes, to the front! The functional communicator is like your stellar, organized assistant. This communicator relishes the details as long as they speak to a clear path to success. Efficiency is the name of the game. Functional speakers are clear, concise, and organized. They want to understand every step of the plan and are relentlessly thorough in their communications.
But sometimes, that thoroughness could rub people the wrong way. Walk-throughs and timelines are a functional type’s bread and butter. But if you pair them with an intuitive type? The latter might yawn and figuratively fast-forward to the bottom line.
Things functional communicators say:
“I crunched the numbers and found a solid path toward minimizing our ad spend. Week one, we’ll remove all expensive keyword bids if they don’t meet our conversion minimum. Week two, we’ll introduce some more organic SEO tactics to complement our small list of Google Ads keywords. By week three, I anticipate a 30% reduction in ad spend.”
Pro tip for the functional communicator:
Planning is quintessential in business — but know your audience. There’s no need to spew timelines and objectives if you don’t have to. Instead, guide those around you using your plans without overwhelming them.
Research cites that empathy is the “most important leadership skill.” If that’s true, personal communicators have serious potential for business success. Without your team of people, how else would you build a company? The personal communicator knows their people inside and out. They tend to read emotions well and have impeccable listening and observation skills.
But they’re not just good at listening to others — personal communicators are also super aware. They’re capable of knowing whether someone is on the same page as them, and can quickly resolve conflict or misunderstandings. In other words? They’re master relationship builders and maintainers.
If you’re a personal communicator, your people skills have likely gotten you far in business. But as motivating and inspiring as you can be, careful not to come off as too emotional — especially to the analytical communicator.
Things personal communicators say:
“I appreciate your attention to detail in this project — it really helped us solve a pressing customer issue, and I recognize how much energy it took.”
Pro tip for the personal communicator:
Use your people skills to understand your audience better. You can retain empathy while infusing some data into your conversation when needed. Also, don’t forget your goals and objectives, it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s needs thereby failing to meet your own.
Who do you communicate with as a business owner?
You’ll communicate with others non-stop as a business owner. But everyone communicates differently and the people you’re interacting with will constantly change. Here, you’ll have to be a sort of chameleon to ensure people understand you as comprehensively as possible.
Linda Pophal, owner of Strategic Communications LLC, supports changing your communication style and methods as needed:
“If you work in an office environment and your colleagues prefer face-to-face conversations, err on the side of having face to face conversations, even if that’s not your preference.”
Now, who are you chatting with? Let’s start with the people you interact with every day:
Employees and contractors
As a business owner, you communicate with employees and contractors on a daily basis. This means that you’ll be communicating your top-level goals for the business as well as specific needs, positive and negative feedback, and day-to-day communications and pleasantries.
Partners and Investors
Finding a potential business partner demands extremely detailed and analytical communication. You need to clearly communicate your long-term business goals and specs to bring investors and partners on board.
Analytical conversation isn’t as important for new connections. They want the big picture, so an intuitive style with a dash of etiquette works well here. As you grow, you’ll connect with more and more people in your field. They may not always be employees, partners, or investors, but they can give you ideas and become great allies. Who knows? Maybe in the years to come you will end up working with one another. This communication could take place at industry meetups and events or online on platforms like LinkedIn.
Bring out the champagne! No, for real — you’ll need to smooth out your communication style with simultaneous transparency and persuasion when chatting with potential and current clients.
“With clients, I emphasize transparency and open dialogue to build trust and show sincere interest in their feedback or concerns,” says Ryan McKenzie, co-founder of Tru Earth.
Tips for effective business communication
Now that you’ve been introduced to different communication styles in business, how do you leverage them? We talked to a few business leaders for some advice.
Think about your audience: Who are you speaking to? What’s their communication tactic in business?
Erin Banta, co-founder of custom decor business Pepper Home, describes the careful balance between consistency and adaptability in communication:
“Depending on the circumstances your communication style might change, which can help you find a balance in how your business operates. For example, you might be passive with employees to encourage them to take ownership of their work, or you might be aggressive in a learning or coaching environment. The important thing to remember, however, is to be as consistent as possible with your communication style as to not give your employees or clients figurative whiplash.”
Consider body language: An open and confident posture will make your audience much more receptive to your message. But you should observe their body language, too.
“Be conscious of nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice—all of which can have a major impact on how messages are received,” says McKenzie.
Actively listen: “Listening and evaluating feedback is just as important as expressing ideas,” says McKenzie. “Taking into account cultural differences or language barriers can be beneficial when engaging with diverse audiences.”
What are the four C’s of effective business communication?
A few c-words popped up in all this communication style talk. A few of them make up the four C’s of effective business communication. They are as follows:
Clarity: A powerful leader gets their point across with plain language, not jargon. Analytical communicators, take note! You can’t always transfer the techy words from your mind to every audience. Additionally, intuitive communicators can consider clarity to illuminate the action behind the scenes of their visionary goals.
Credibility: Are you speaking from your heart or facts? If the latter, a credible communicator backs it up with data. As a business owner, you have a lot riding on your shoulders. Your reputation is everything. Build it in your communication with honesty, accessible language, and an informed perspective.
Complete: Intuitive communicators, we’re looking at you. The vision is only one part of the story. Communication should be complete, including all necessary components to ensure understanding. And analytical speakers? What’s obvious to you as an expert may not be obvious to your audience. The solution? Just fill them in with a bit more detail!
Concrete: Your audience needs tangible proof and evidence of what you’re telling them. You’ll need to assure them with history and data — especially if your audience is analytical.
How do I integrate communication tactics into my business?
Awareness is step one. Step two is learning when and where to lean into different communication tactics in business. Here are some more tips for integrating communication tactics into your business:
- Educate yourself and your team. Listen to your audiences and use that knowledge to guide the way you communicate. Share this consideration with the rest of your team so that you can continue the trend in customer communications, too.
- Leverage different types of communication. Try chatting in-person, via Zoom, email, or phone calls. Get comfortable with each method and accommodate your audience accordingly. If someone prefers an email, but someone else prefers a phone call, be sure to note those details and incorporate them into your communication.
- Be respectful of different communication styles. Don’t pit them against one another or value one type over the styles of others. Each style has a role to play.
- Practice delivering content for your audience, not your ego.
Improve your business communication with Creative Clan!
Whether you’re a functional, personal, analytical, or intuitive communicator, you’ll use every style to practice strong communication tactics in business. If you’re looking to learn more about business communication, we’d love to help. Here at Creative Clan, we advise creative business owners like yourself about operations, finances, and digital marketing — including business communication tactics. Book a consultation today!