Business Communication Words and Phrases: How to Communicate Professionally
In a business setting, the way you express your thoughts can either propel your career to the greatest heights or send you sinking to the lowest depths.
Communicating effectively – either during daily chat with co-workers or on more formal occasions like meetings with clients – is a defining characteristic of any true professional.
To be seen as a reliable and trustworthy professional and skyrocket your career, adaptability in communication is paramount. Depending on the environment you find yourself in, you’ll want to adapt your business vocabulary to fit the situation.
Ultimately, pitching an idea or giving an important presentation doesn’t involve the same vocabulary as when you’re having a casual conversation over lunch with your colleagues.
Without further ado, let’s go over some essential business communication words and phrases professionals should be familiar with in order to make a good impression.
1. Words and phrases to ease business communication
Proper team management starts with effective and open communication.
Managers should understand the importance of establishing a rigorous communication structure to have a productive team and a successful company.
Encouraging open communication, consistently offering feedback, and setting clear goals and expectations are core attributes that turn a manager into a great leader.
Apart from finding the appropriate communication tools for effective workplace collaboration and productivity, there’s also a pressing need for consistency in communication. A lack of any of these magic ingredients is likely to lead to miscommunication and potential conflicts.
The words and phrases used when communicating with team members can be make or break for a business.
To avoid miscommunication, you should carefully consider how to clearly express your thoughts. During team meetings, finding the best way to articulate your ideas is crucial to make yourself understood and have fruitful discourse.
Here’s a tip: use simple words and phrases and adapt your communication to your audience.
2. Common business communication words and phrases
During business meetings, especially inter-departmental ones, it’s imperative to keep business communication clear and avoid professional jargon and slang. That’s because people are likely to have different professional backgrounds and knowledge.
Moreover, in a multicultural business environment, there’s a strong chance that some of your colleagues might speak English as a second language.
This means that before using what could appear as common expressions to you, first try to analyze your team members’ communication styles.
If you’ve already had some interaction with them, what business communication words and phrases do they usually use?
While some business phrases may sound professional, there’s a fine line between catchy and cliché.
It’s important to understand which phrases will empower you as a communicator, when to use them, and when it’s better to cut the jargon. Some business communication words and phrases to use with caution could be:
- cut corners: this business phrase means completing a task quickly, somehow carelessly – it usually leads to blunders or creating additional issues as a result;
- call it a day: is a business phrase used to announce the end of something;
- touch base: this business term implies doing a short catch-up session covering the latest projects, updates, deadlines, or any sort of news
- keeping someone in the loop: means keeping someone informed of something
- drill down into: this means exploring something in more depth
- as of yet: it is a synonym for “for the moment”
- put someone up to speed: this phrase refers to informing someone of something that has happened
- cut to the chase: this business phrase is a shorter option for “get to the point without wasting time”
- get the ball rolling: means starting doing something, beginning to make progress
- stay ahead of the curve/on top of the trends: being up to date in all relevant matters, especially to gain competitive advantage
- due diligence: refers to necessary research that precedes a good decision
- go the extra mile: this is a business phrase that refers to putting extra effort into a task to achieve an even better result than expected
- think outside the box: means thinking in an original, unconventional or creative way
- the ball is in your court: saying this to someone signals your expectation for that person to make a decision in a given situation, or take responsibility for something
- take it to the next level: this business phrase refers to enhancing or developing something that has already proven successful
- the bottom line – is a synonym for “in conclusion”
- game-changer: a synonym for impactful or revolutionary
We’ve already established that some business communication words and phrases may be better to avoid in certain situations.
Furthermore, another obstacle standing in the way of effective communication is overusing buzzwords.
While using business communication words and phrases appropriately may make you look like a true professional, overusing them can do quite the opposite. Overusing business buzzwords can impede clarity during a meeting, and be exhausting for your audience.
Moreover, since business jargon often feels impersonal, overusing it may create difficulties in developing a strong team bond.
3. Business communication words and phrases to avoid
Regardless of your meeting’s level of formality, pompous words and frilly phrases only make communication more difficult and risk losing your team’s focus. Not to mention how impersonal this can easily come across to your audience.
Moreover, when communicating in clichés or borderline pretentious phrases, we risk having our non-English native colleagues misinterpret our messages.
To avoid all of the above, you could consider replacing some of your stiffest business communication words and phrases with simpler and friendlier ones.
|Let’s take it offline ( became highly popular during the pandemic, in the context of remote work)||“Let’s talk about this in-person later/ Let’s discuss it in a separate call after this meeting”|
|Dig deep||Let’s take a closer look/ explore in greater detail|
|Perform at your highest caliber||Give your best|
|Synergize||Let’s team up/ work together|
|Core competencies||Strong points/ abilities|
4. Useful business words and phrases to deploy during meetings
Meetings occupy a significant part of employees’ work schedules. This means that communication efficiency is vital for overall productivity.
Depending on their purpose, some meetings are easier to run than others. However, whether it’s a brainstorming meeting or just a catch-up, effective management of the whole discussion is key.
To get to the best solution for each matter, managers should ask their co-worker’s opinions and talk through the various perspectives brought to the table.
While there will inevitably be different opinions and interruptions, some rejected and accepted proposals, the way the whole communication flow is handled is critical.
Ineffective communication – often the result of a poor choice of business words and phrases can lead to tension and conflicts that can damage a company in various ways.
Since finding the clearest way to articulate your ideas in the workplace is integral to constructive communication, here are some useful phrases you can integrate into your next meetings.
- For interrupting
“May I have a word?”
“If I may, I think…”
“Excuse me for interrupting…”
- For giving opinions
“I (really) feel that…”
“In my opinion…”
“The way I see things…”
- When asking for opinions
“Do you (really) think that…?”
“(name of the participant) can we get your input?”
“How do you feel about…?”
- For commenting on opinions
“I’ve never thought about it that way before.”
“I see your point.”
“I see what you mean.”
- For clarifying things
“Do you see what I’m getting at?”
“Let me put that another way.”
“I’d just like to repeat that…”
- When asking for repetition
“I didn’t (quite) catch that. Could you repeat, please?”
“I missed that. Could you say it again, please?”
“Could you run that by me one more time?
- When dealing with interruptions
“Hold on. Can I finish that point?”
“I’d like to finish if I may.”
“Just a moment.”
- When rejecting proposals
“I’m not sure I agree with you here.”
“ I (just) don’t think that will work.”
“I’m not sure that’s exactly what we need.”
“That’s a good idea but…”
- When accepting proposals
“That’s a good idea.”
“This is just what we need.”
“Let’s try this.”
“This looks like it could work.”
“That might be worth trying.”
5. Business communication words and phrases to integrate into emails
Given that a significant part of business communication takes place via email, the way these are written matters when effective communication is the goal.
Just think of all the times you’ve wished your colleagues had been a bit clearer and more concise in their e-mails.
An effective e-mail is one that is friendly, to the point and leaves no room for doubt.
Since never ending back-and-forth emails are annoying and time-consuming, e-mail communication optimization is of the essence.
As a business person, it’s important to write clear, polite, not too formal, yet professional emails. To do so, you could integrate the following business communication words and phrases when writing your emails, if you need a bit of inspiration.
- When informing or directing someone
“I am writing to you to follow up on… ”
“I wanted to let you know that… ”
“Your action is needed regarding… ”
“Please see the following update”
“This is a quick note about… ”
- When making a request
“Can you possibly… ?”
“If possible, could you…?”
“Would you be so kind to…?”
- When asking for opinions
“Please let me know what your thoughts are on this.”
“Is this course of action okay with you?”
“Please let me know if I have the green light on this.”
When preparing for a presentation, it’s vitally important to incorporate the right business communication words and phrases tailored to your audience.
Best practice for successful pitches and productive business meetings usually recommends avoiding overused buzzwords and slang. This is something to keep in mind!
Regardless of the communication channel you’re using with your colleagues, keeping your ideas to the point and clearly formulated will put you on the right path towards successful communication.