Communication in business

Dr Linda Papadopoulos representing K2 Corporate Mobility

On Thursday 10th April 2014, K2 hosted a spring networking event at Home House London, with guest speakers Dr. Linda Papadopoulos and Tracy Figliola. Our quarterly event aims to connect those working in the global mobility sector, providing an opportunity and platform to discuss and share issues and ideas.

For those working in global mobility, routine is irregular. Global Mobility specialists will often be required to influence teams across multiple continents, anticipating local problems on a global scale. In international business the manner in which communications are delivered and interpreted can have a huge impact on the success of projects, and morale of teams.

With these skills in mind, our April event focused on a theme of Trust and Communication. Dr. Linda Papadopoulos provided K2’s audience with a high level introduction to communication in business, and HSBC’s Tracy Figliola presented workable controls and suggestions for Mobility teams.

Communication in business, by Dr. Linda Papadopoulos

Studies have suggested that 85% of business success is linked to effective communication, with listeners only absorbing 25% of the speech aimed at them. In a Global Mobility context, the stakes are high. On average, an international assignment costs companies 3 times the annual salary of an employee, and in cost conscious environments return on investment is so often scrutinized. If communication is so vital to success, what steps can we each take to assess and improve our skills?

  • Speaking: Less is more. Words mean different things to different people. Appreciate and consider that the responses and interpretation of your words may not be the same for everyone. The human brain converts words to images, and too many words will clutter communications, potentially causing misunderstanding and undesired responses. Be comfortable with silence, and allow your audience to engage.
  • Listening: The bigger picture. Humans require multiple cues to interpret messages. Only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, with 93% of meaning being derived from tone, body language and other non-verbal elements. When listening, try not to take the words in their most literal sense. Consider how the speaker feels about what they’re communicating- what are they really trying to achieve. In global mobility, an assignee that is seemingly focused on small, insignificant details may have a much larger underlying trigger or concern. Actively listening and using aids such as paraphrasing, repetition, questioning and physical reinforcement will not only clarify information and avoid misunderstandings, but make the speaker feel understood and calm.

To summarise, never under estimate the impact of communication. Take the time to introspectively assess your words, body language and tone, and put yourself in another’s shoes. The benefits for both businesses and persons are limitless.

About the author: Dr. Linda Papadopoulos
Dr. Linda is highly lauded in academic and scientific circles for her publications and research; and recognised nationally for her TV profile. She is a Contributing Editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine, a mentor to Phd students, guests speaking at international Universities and Medical schools and has acted as consultant on corporate projects for major brands including Dior, Tate and Lyle, Diageo and Camelot.

Dr. Mehrabian, A. (1972) Silent Messages: Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitude, Wadsworth Publishing Company