Follow these 3 rules for better communication

Why do we complicate things more than they need to be? Particularly in the context of business communication. Pay attention to a conversation between two executives, and you would think they’re speaking another language. 

Do we complicate our language because we think it helps us sound more sophisticated? Is it because we believe it gives us a sense of authority? Do we think it makes us sound more competent?

Ask yourself the following question: Are you here to impress or inform?

We dedicate a lot of energy to appearances and not enough to actual results. It’s like a football player who spends all day thinking about the suit he will wear to the stadium and not enough on the strategy that will help them win the game. I’ll bet you his performance on the field will not be optimal.

There are real consequences when our focus is on the wrong thing. Complicated language leads to miscommunication. Employees are confused about what to do. Companies fail to achieve targets. Money is lost.

Is there a better option? The answer is a resounding YES.

It’s called simplicity in words, phrases, and examples. 

  1. Use vocabulary that is easy to understand: From time to time, a student will approach me and say, “I learned a new word.” They tell me the word and I reply, “forget it. You’ll never need it.” We have language because we want to communicate ideas, but when the other person doesn’t understand what we’re saying, we might as well speak to them in Chinese. I don’t think you want to speak Chinese to your clients, so use vocabulary everyone understands. 
  2. Avoid business jargon when communicating with international clients: Phrases such as, in the loop, low-hanging fruit, and out of pocket, may sound cool, but if the other person looks at you with a confused smile, then all you did was make sounds and not say anything meaningful at all. We can’t assume that everyone we meet has the same level of Business English knowledge that we do. 
  3. Give simple examples after making a statement: Our brains are wired to understand stories better than abstract ideas. Use that to your advantage. Instead of giving a long, complicated, and technical explanation, share analogies and stories to make your point. You’ll notice that the confused smile you received before will turn into a nod of approval. Let’s take an example from the world of English grammar. What is the difference between the Present Continuous and Present Simple? Think of the Present Continuous like a river that is constantly in motion. It’s always changing and temporary. The Present Simple is like a rock. It refers to facts and habits that don’t change. 

If you want to build trust, respect, and a good relationship with business partners, then simplicity is the path that will lead you there. Your conversations will be clearer. Tasks will be completed. Targets will be reached.

If you’re looking to improve your business English communication, contact me today.

Vocabulary Words

  1. complicate (verb): (etw.) erschweren
  2. impress (verb): beeindrucken
  3. confused (adj.): verwirrt 
  4. nod (verb): nicken

Phrases to Remember

  1. in the loop: aware of information about a particular matter.
  2. low-hanging fruit: the most easily achieved of a set of tasks, measures, goals, etc.
  3. out of pocket: with one’s own money rather than with money from another source
  4. to be wired: programmed

Comprehension Questions

  1. What will you notice when some executives speak with each other?
  2. What are the consequences of complicated language in the workplace?
  3. What happened when we use complicated vocabulary nobody understands?
  4. What is a better way to explain ideas than by using abstract concepts?
  5. What is the analogy used to describe the difference between the Present Simple vs Present Continuous?

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