Becoming a Competent Business Communicator

Business Communication is Goals-Oriented and Receiver-Centric

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One thing is certain: If you want to succeed in business, you need to be a competent communicator. Whether your role is in sales, accounting, marketing, information technology, human resources, or any other career specialty, you are going to spend a sizable portion of every day communicating.

You will read and respond to thousands of email messages every year.[1] You will document procedures and explain how to do things to new coworkers. You will update supervisors and staff with status reports. You will calm upset customers and try to win back their trust. You will coordinate and participate in online team meetings. You will pitch proposals to prospective clients or investors. You will try to convince your boss to support your business recommendations, give you a raise, or simply let you have next Friday off.

Because so much of the work of business is communication—written, spoken, and nonverbal—the effect of your ability to communicate on your career success cannot be overstated. People who are strong communicators land better jobs. They are more effective in their roles. They get promoted more quickly. And they are more likely to become organizational leaders.

Recently, a learning consulting company conducted an analysis of more than 21 million job ads. The research team found that the most sought after skill in prospective employees was communication, regardless of the specific position to be filled.[2] A talent acquisition firm conducted a survey and reported that two-thirds of recruiters believe that communication skills are more important than college major for entry-level jobs.[3] Year after year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers job outlook survey shows employers rate communication skills among the most important skills a job candidate can have.[4]

Of course, you may be thinking that you have already learned a lot about how to communicate. In fact, you may have written research papers in college classes, kept a private journal, created content for your social media accounts or posted responses to others’ content, sent thousands of text messages, or talked in front of groups in a social club or classroom. Indeed, those are all important communication skills. But they are not necessarily business communication skills.

In this book, you will gain important knowledge and insights that will help you become a competent business communicator. Certainly, you are not starting from scratch. Many of the things you have learned along the way about what it means to be a good communicator in your personal or academic life will carry over into the business world. But business is a unique context, with its own set of expectations for communication. That means that there will be things about business communication that may be brand new to you. It is also likely that a few of the skills you previously acquired may not translate to good business writing.

The good news is that you can become competent in business communication by developing specific ways to practice communicating. Certainly, there are some guidelines and best practices you can follow (and many of these will be covered throughout this book). But more importantly, being a competent business communicator calls for fundamentally different ways to think about why you are communicating and how you are communicating. And it all starts with two foundational principles: business communication is goals-oriented and business communication is receiver-centric.


  1. Research firm Radicati Group reported that business professionals receive and/or respond to 120 emails per day. That’s 30,000 emails per year. Source: Sara Radicati, Email Statistics Report, 2014-2018 (Palo Alto, CA: The Radicati Group, Inc., 2014)
  2. Mark C. Perna, “The Top 5 Power Skills Employers are Looking For in 2023,” Forbes, May 30, 2023,
  3. iCIMS, Class of 2023 Report (Holmdel, NJ: iCIMS, 2023),
  4. NACE, The Job Market for the Class of 2023: Key Skills/Competencies Employers are Seeking (Bethlehem, PA: National Association of College and Employers, 2023)


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Business Communication: Five Core Competencies Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Lucas, Jacob D. Rawlins, and Jenna Haugen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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