4 key communication skills for business students

4 key communication skills for business students

The communication skills students at business schools develop play a major role in determining their success as business leaders. Good communication is essential for team collaboration, motivation, productivity, company culture, conflict resolution, and more. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key communication skills for business school students, why they are important, and how to improve them.

Identify your communication style

Every school has a unique communication style, a way in which they interact and exchange information with others. To find the school that fits your communication style, you first need to identify yours. Do you prefer direct communication or do you tend to interact with others in a more indirect manner? Are you an open person, who tends to be freely expressive, or you are rather reserved? Once you pinpoint the way you prefer to communicate, it’s time to find a school that fits your style. But how?

Enter the Unimy MBA Cultural Fit, which classifies business schools and universities using six different dimensions, including one called “explicit vs intuitive communication”. This dimension shows how people typically communicate within the school: whether in explicit and detailed or more subtle and context-dependent ways. If communication tends to be subtle and allows room for interpretation, then the school favors intuitive communication. If, on the other hand, a school describes rules and expectations in detail, it favors explicit communication. For instance, our MBA Cultural Fit research shows that INSEAD, Oxford, and Cambridge have the most intuitive communication style out of the 130 schools included in the MBA Cultural Fit database. On the other end, Henley, Vienna University of Economics and Business, and EGADE Business School have the most explicit communication style. 

Take the MBA Cultural Fit test and identify the schools that best share your values, including your communication style. It’s easy and free. You can learn more about the MBA Cultural Fit dimensions here.  

Good writing is essential

Strong writing skills are of paramount importance for anyone in business. You need them to communicate with your colleagues, bosses, subordinates, shareholders, the media, clients, various institutions, and so on. If you are an entrepreneur, your writing can make or break your startup when you pitch the idea to potential investors. There are a few simple rules you need to follow to make sure your writing is clear:

  • Use simple sentences
  • Use active rather than passive voice
  • Avoid jargon
  • Avoid confusion
  • Be specific
  • Use punctuation

Many believe writing is hard, and it is. Writing is hard because thinking is hard. But instead of being intimidated by it, you can use it to improve your thinking and problem-solving skills. If you want to check if an idea is good or if you understand a topic, just put pen to paper. Writing tends to expose flaws in people’s reasoning and forces the writer to think clearly. It is no coincidence that some of the most successful business leaders, like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos, are also outstanding writers.

Give killer presentations

You are probably familiar with Steve Jobs’ presentations and their role in turning around Apple’s fortunes. You may remember him unveiling the iPhone in 2007 and his now famous punchline: "An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. These are not three separate devices”. You know a presentation was good when the actual words live on in popular culture… As Jobs showed us, the ability to present is incredibly important in business. That’s why you are unlikely to get through university without having to do it.

Standing in front of an audience to give a presentation is a daunting prospect for most, but you can follow a few simple rules that will help you reduce stress and deliver an effective presentation. The most important thing is to prepare well and avoid a last-minute rush. Also, remember that visuals and text should complement your oral presentation, not repeat it or deliver it for you. It’s also vital to think about the audience and consider how much background information they will need. And of course, practice. You can do it alone, or better yet, in front of someone – a relative, a friend, a classmate… You might also record yourself and analyze your presentation. You are certain to notice aspects to improve that you otherwise wouldn’t. 

The art of being a team player

The ability to consistently collaborate with coworkers requires a special kind of communication skill. Working in a group is a complex interplay between different characters, attitudes, and communication styles. This complexity sometimes results in misunderstanding, conflict, and frustration. Yet for all the occasional discomfort, we benefit from working with people with diverse skills and personality types. As Andrew Carnegie put it, teamwork “is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results".

Business schools will give you many opportunities to work in a team, so let’s think about the attributes that team players possess; they typically have strong communication, collaboration, active listening, and problem-solving skills. Team players know their place in the group, respect ideas, and aim to contribute to the common goal. Team players take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan and know that their team’s success is their own success.

Giving/receiving feedback

Effective feedback helps us and others improve and grow. Giving good feedback is as important as receiving it. Admittedly, this is not an easy communication skill to develop, but once you get the hang of it you will reap dividends for decades to come. Colleagues, bosses, family, and friends will appreciate your considerate, thoughtful approach. Conversely, your mature reaction to constructive feedback will help you develop. 

You should welcome feedback because it enables you to see your blind spots. When someone offers feedback, try to overcome your ego so that you can benefit from the suggestions. Be respectful, listen actively, and ask questions to clarify any misunderstanding. When offering feedback, be specific, positive, and honest. Also, consider the saying: "Praise by name, criticize by category." It's a fantastic way to approach the art of giving feedback.

The communication skills business students hone during their studies do not only benefit them as professionals, but also as people. So, start practicing today!



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