3.1 Key terminology for communication
The importance of communication
Communication: a key skill to have and master in any area of your life. In your personal life, communication is paramount for engaging with family, friends and people you meet whilst out and about. Similarly, communication in your professional life allows you to interact with colleagues, negotiate with clients and network with potential business partners or associates.
There are several challenges that business owners may come across when communicating on an international level; finding the right communication channels, cross-cultural communication, language and translation issues. Each of these different aspects should be considered when developing communication skills for your business, to be used in a global setting.
When KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) decided to go global, their campaign in Beijing didn’t go according to plan. Their famous slogan “Finger Licking Good” was translated into “Eat your fingers off”! This resulted in a decrease in sales for the company; however, the marketing strategy was soon readjusted, allowing KFC to become a globally successful company, even in China.
So! If your communication skills need some work due to a lack of confidence, uncertainty in the field or purely being out of practice, then this module is sure to help you regain your confidence in the art of communication and pave the way for you to successfully communicate on a global scale in no time!
Key terminology and concepts
When developing a skill, the key is to start with the basics, including the fundamental concepts and terminology behind the skill. With regards to communication, it is advised to follow the Seven Cs of Communication, first introduced by Scott M. Cutlip and Allen H. Center, in their book Effective Public Relations, published in 1952. The Seven Cs of Communication are an effective and well-known list of concepts to abide by when developing your communication skills.
Below we have mapped out these concepts and given a description to help you remember the Seven Cs.
- CLEAR: Whichever method of communication you choose, be it an email, a text or a face-to-face discussion, being clear is essential. Before you speak, have in mind the main objective of your communication and make sure to stick to your point. When writing an email, make sure that one paragraph is talking about one point, not several intermingled. This will ensure that you have a clear communication structure that everyone will understand.
- CONCISE: Don’t repeat yourself or use unnecessary words such as “you see”, “basically” or “literally”. If you are concise in what you say, the listener will immediately know what you are talking about and therefore more willing to communicate back. In a business environment, it is essential to be concise – but we will talk more about that later on.
- CONCRETE: Knowing about the topic you are talking about is very beneficial during communication. Having examples and facts to back up your point can make your discussion or negotiation stronger and more credible to the listener.
- CORRECT: As well as having facts and examples, make sure that your written communication is grammatically correct and appropriate for the context in which you are writing. Misspelt words or incorrect punctuation can negatively impact how people receive your communications.
TOP TIP: When writing a professional piece of communication, ask someone else to check your writing against these 7 Cs, paying particular attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling.
- COHERENT: When checking that your written communication is clear and concise, also make sure that it is coherent. Ask yourself: is everything you said relevant? Is each point linked to your main aim? Does everything you say match in terms of writing style and context? When communicating verbally, coherence is harder to maintain but by focusing on your main point you should be able to develop your conversation around this to maintain coherence.
- COMPLETE: Make sure that your communication reaches an end goal- your main point of the conversation. To ensure you have a complete communication, include additional information around the subject which may answer any follow-up questions. In doing so you are completing the communication for the listener and helping them to understand your point further.
- COURTEOUS: Last but by far the least, be courteous when communicating. When having face-to-face or written communication, be friendly and welcoming to discussion and respect the other person’s point of view. During situations when you are negotiating a business deal, be courteous whilst also being assertive. We will discuss assertiveness in the following unit.
Over the years, more Cs have been added to this list in order to further develop your communication skills in the 21st century, especially given that the ways to communicate have tripled since the 1950s. Concepts such as Credibility, Consistency and Context have also been added to enhance communication.
Communicating in a business environment
As business owners, your communication skills are essential for developing networks, securing business deals and engaging with your target audience. As well as taking into consideration the Seven Cs of Communication, it is also good to know about key business terminology so reassert your business acumen during these professional conversations. Below is an assortment of key business terminology to help you develop your business communication skills.
Business Terminology and understanding for Communication
Trademark: A type of intellectual property which links a particular product with a business.
If any of your work/products are trademarked, make sure that you are aware of the implications of this trademark and can fully explain these to your listener.
In the creative sector, pricing varies depending on product, work time etc. Make sure that you understand your own pricing and the justification behind it. This will make negotiations easier.
NB: Pricing may differ depending on country and, in an international setting, pricing should be discussed and investigated to ensure success.
In a business, taxes and the appropriate tax systems are essential. This money is paid into Government organisations and is mandatory for any business. Not paying tax could incur more charges and severe criminal punishment.
For more information on tax systems across the globe, check out the 2018 World Wide Corporate Tax Guide: https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-2018-worldwide-corporate-tax-guide/$FILE/EY-2018-worldwide-corporate-tax-guide.pdf
Import and Export
Import: Bringing goods/products into a country from another for the purpose of selling.
Export: Shipping goods/products out of one country into another for the purpose of selling.
Communicating in an international business setting
One of the main aims for the Global FemART project and Academy is to help you, as creative business owners, to develop your skills in order to internationalise your business. Therefore, by having effective communication skills, you will be able to converse with colleagues and potential business associates from different countries.
In order to communicate in an international business setting, you should follow the same advice for communicating in your home country and within any business environment. However, there are a few points to consider in order to communicate effectively and respectfully in an international context:
- Language: when internationalising your business, it is not always essential to speak the language of the country you wish to expand to. Obviously, knowledge of the language can be very beneficial and ensure the smooth running of your business deals abroad. However, if you are not fluent in the language, make sure to be very clear and concise in the language in which both you and your listener are comfortable with. To make communication channels easier, you could consider a translator to help you with your international communications, to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.
- Culture: the international market is a celebration of different cultures combining and interacting in the business world. When communicating in this setting, cultural awareness is essential. When discussing trading deals with clients, understanding the different cultures involved can help to avoid misunderstandings, respect all parties involved and find the best solution for all.
Each of these topics will be discussed in further detail in the units to follow within this module.
Activity: self-learning exercise
In order to test what you have learnt during this unit on communication, please complete the following activity sheet.
ACTIVITY: Think of a business conversation you may have when internationalising your business.
- Choose a type of communication you wish to write (an email introducing yourself, a press release for your business or an email to a potential overseas buyer).
- Construct your opening paragraph using the 7 Cs of Communication chart below.
This will help you to think about the different elements of communication and how to put them into action.
Effective Public Relations, 1952, Scott M. Cutlip and Allen H. Center
2018 World Wide Corporate Tax Guide, EY: Building a Better Working World