In today's information age, business communications must include both written and verbal communication to convey intent and ensure accuracy. Using both methods effectively helps avoid misunderstandings and prevents confusion and time wasting. With the increased use of technology in human interaction, our written and verbal communication skills can sometimes suffer — yet they are vital in the workplace.
Effective communication is especially relevant in the workplace, where “time is money”. The more time wasted because of insufficient or inaccurate information being passed between colleagues, the more money a business will lose. For example, a lack of detail in a brief could mean a designer having to redo the whole design, doubling the amount of time needed to complete the task.
When conveying information, you want the person or people you are addressing to understand precisely what you mean. Yet, more often than not, some confusion or misinterpretation leads to poor results. This is where both written and verbal communication can work together to ensure accurate results.
For instance, if a manager gave unclear or complicated verbal instructions to his employees concerning how he wanted a task completed the following week, a written work order would serve as a reminder and reference to the employees on how to complete the work. While they might not be able to remember everything the manager told them verbally, they can check the written instructions for clarification.
While there are many similarities between oral and written communication when it comes to communicating the facts, there can be differences with regards to the intent interpreted in a communication. Without the help of body language and vocal intonation to guide us, written communication — particularly in an informal sense — is open to a reader’s interpretation. This can lead to huge misunderstandings.
An increasing number of us rely on emails, text messages and instant messenger tools to communicate. This lack of personalization means we need to think carefully about how our messages will be perceived. While you might intend something as a joke, another person could read it and take it literally. Poorly written or verbal communication can lead not only to a distortion of the facts, but also of your thoughts and intentions.
In a professional environment, the clearer and more concise you are in your written and verbal communication, the more proficient you will seem. If a letter is badly worded or if you give a seemingly unplanned and disjointed presentation, it might appear that you have not taken the matter seriously, and you could therefore seem unprofessional. By getting your point across succinctly, speaking with clarity and projection and submitting written presentations without errors, you will demonstrate that you are a good communicator who knows your subject well.
Part of being able to communicate well, especially verbally, is having confidence in what you are saying. If you hesitate and mumble when you speak or, worse, say something untrue for the sake of answering a question, then you will not effectively relay your viewpoint or instructions. If you do not appear to believe in what you are saying, then how can you expect anyone else to?