Business

Learn communication skills for business success at Wits Plus

Excellent communication skills are fundamental to unlocking opportunities to achieve business success

A short course to improve your business communication skills.
A short course to improve your business communication skills.
Image: Supplied/Wits Plus

A Scientific American blog about the role of luck in success mentions the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur and argues that we can learn to be successful by reading about successful people:

“There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it’s their personal characteristics, such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset and emotional intelligence, that got them where they are today.

“This assumption also underlies how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame, to government grants, to public policy decisions. We tend to give out resources to those who have a past history of success, and ignore those who have been unsuccessful, assuming that the most successful are also the most competent.”

While not discounting the role that luck, or family inheritance and reputation might have in success, consider the huge role good communication skills play in success. For example, if you cannot express yourself well, your proposal will be unsuccessful. If your business plan is full of grammar errors, even if the financials add up, and you can show a past history of success, you are less likely to get the funding you’re after.

There are many daily examples where stronger communication skills would have made the difference between success and failure. If a junior data processor bypasses her line manager to ask another manager for help with entering a batch of data in a different format but is not clear about the batch names, she is unlikely to be successful in getting her job done.

Jumping ranks will not go down well in corporate hierarchies, for starters. Moreover, if she lacks the corporate know-how to avoid this faux pas once, she is likely to blunder several times, thus generating the impression that she is disloyal to her own line manager and not a valued team player. On the other hand, the lack of clarity in her emails can be overcome by improving her business communication skills.

Effective business emails need to be short and to the point, with specific detail, especially if a request or instruction is given. The reader can’t be expected to do anything if they don’t know what is actually being requested. It may be a simple case of giving the label names of the data batches, as in this example, but often managers grumble about staff being incompetent or lazy when the problem is their own poor communication skills and inability to use email effectively. 

The best part of this solution is that it doesn't rely on luck. We all have the innate ability to improve our communication skills. For those who want to improve their communication skills mindfully, there are short courses that take only a few hours a week for a couple of months for insights into well-researched theories and techniques so they can apply these strategically in their personal and professional lives. 

In the reading about luck, talent is defined as “whatever set of personal characteristics allow a person to exploit lucky opportunities” and talent includes “intelligence, skill, motivation, determination, creative thinking, emotional intelligence”. These skills are highlighted in the Wits Plus Effective Business Communication short course to equip students to make the most of opportunities.

Studies have shown that the most talented people are not the most successful in life, but that luck and opportunity may play an unseen role in that success. Excellent communication skills are to making the most of opportunities and breaking through to success.

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-time Studies at Wits University, offers selected part-time Wits undergraduate degrees, postgraduate programmes and business and language short courses. 

Collaboration with Wits Language School, Wits DigitalCampus and Wits Online means that flexible study options are enhanced and continue to expand to meet the changing needs of professionals and mature adults who require their studies to fit within their lifestyles and careers.   

This article was paid for by Wits Plus.