What is Communication?

com·mu·ni·ca·tion [kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh n] noun

  1. the act or process of communicating
  2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs
  3. a connecting route, passage, or link; a joining or connecting

Communication is one of the single most vital aspects of running a successful business. Great communication draws people in, informs them, and helps them engage in what you’re trying to accomplish. Poor communication drives rifts (often times irreparable) between companies and customers.

Communication is “the act or process of communicating.”

It is an “act” or a “process” – it requires deliberate action. Communication doesn’t just happen on its own. It requires careful planning and preparation, such as developing key messaging and a story that can be told, or putting together an elevator speech for that perfect once-in-a-lifetime moment you have to pitch your big idea. It includes crafting honest and genuine responses to questions, complaints, and criticisms that may come your way, and planning ways to say “thank you” to those loyal fans and followers who support you no matter what. Communication is deliberate.

Communication is “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information…”

Communication is freely giving information to others. It requires anticipating those questions or concerns that you may receive, and providing answers before the question is even asked. It is sharing the details that go into why a decision is made or how you developed your idea. It is letting people in and trusting them with the details. And it is being brave enough to accept the flow of thoughts and opinions back to you, and then addressing that information.

Communication happens “…by speech, writing, or signs.”

I’d like to add that it also happens with behavior patterns, facial expressions, and what is not said. Companies communicate with press releases and press conferences, with magazine articles and televised interviews, with corporate filings and radio shows. They also communicate with blog posts, public forum responses, and Twitter and Facebook updates. Company spokespeople communicate with their body language, similes or sighs, and savvy avoidance of certain questions, too. They even communicate certain things by their style of dress, or the company culture that is portrayed on a website or in photos.

Finally, communication is “a connecting route, passage, or link; a joining or connecting.”

Communication is the way in which we reach our audience. It is how we relate to them, connect with them, and draw them in. It’s how we gain a team of loyal customers and followers who turn into spokespeople and brand ambassadors. Communication connects the business world to our personal lives, and makes others feel a part of the solution to the problem, or part of the team accomplishing the mission.

The way in which company leadership communicates with their Board of Directors, their executive team and managers, their employees, their shareholders, their customers, and their prospective customers sets the tone. Is there clear, open, two-way communication between leadership and workers at the company? Is there clear, open, two-way communication between the company and its customers?

If the answer to those two questions is not a resounding YES, then a communications check-up may be in order. Some people are fantastic at leading, motivating, rallying, and steering a company in the right direction. Others are fantastic at planning, structuring, engineering, and developing the products to sell. And other people are truly fantastic at planning and implementing that “connecting route” of communication that allows a company to gather loyal employees and loyal customers. Make sure you have those communicators on your team! They can help you set the tone that is appropriate for your company and then convey that tone to the world.