Business communication has its own set of rules and etiquette that differ from general communication. In this blog, we’ll explore 15 key differences between business communication and general communication, from the language used to the level of formality required. These differences can help you communicate more effectively in a business and general setting.
Importance of effective communication in business and in general communication
Effective communication is crucial in both business and general communication.
In a business context, effective communication allows organizations to establish and sustain relationships with customers, clients, employees, and stakeholders. It helps in conveying messages clearly and concisely, avoiding misunderstandings, and building trust and respect.
In general communication, effective communication is essential for building relationships, expressing emotions, and exchanging information. It enables individuals to connect with others, share their thoughts and feelings, and gain a better understanding of different perspectives.
Overview of Business Communication vs General Communication
Category of Differentiation
Goal-oriented communication to achieve business objectives.
Communication for personal and social purposes.
Typically formal and professional in tone and style.
Can be casual and informal in tone and purpose.
Tone and Style
More structured and formal in tone and style.
Can vary in tone and style, depending on the context and purpose.
Specific target audience, such as employees, customers, or stakeholders.
May involve communicating with anyone, regardless of their relationship to the communicator.
Structure and Format
Has a specific structure and format.
May not have a specific structure or format.
May involve written documents, such as reports, emails, and memos.
May involve both verbal and nonverbal communication.
Often involves specific jargon and technical language.
Typically uses everyday language and terminology.
Purpose of Communication
Often involves persuasive communication, such as sales pitches, proposals, or presentations.
May involve persuasive communication, but not necessarily in a business context.
Feedback is often given and received more formally and with specific objectives in mind.
Feedback can be given and received informally and in a more general sense.
Often has a specific timeline and deadlines.
May not have a specific timeline or deadlines.
Emphasis on Accuracy
Often places a high emphasis on accuracy and precision.
Accuracy and precision may be less important, depending on the context and purpose.
Use of Visual Aids
May involve the use of visual aids, such as graphs, charts, or images.
May or may not involve the use of visual aids, depending on the context and purpose.
Often involves conflict resolution and negotiation.
May involve conflict resolution, but not necessarily in a business context.
Emphasis on listening
Active listening is involved in business communication.
Passive listening is involved in general communication
Can have legal or financial consequences if not done effectively.
May have social or personal consequences if not done effectively.
15 Differences between business and general communication
Detailed explanations for each of the 15 differences are mentioned in the above table:
1/ Purpose: Business communication is goal-oriented communication to achieve business objectives, such as informing employees of a new policy, pitching a proposal to potential investors, or resolving a conflict with a customer. General communication, on the other hand, is communication for personal and social purposes, such as chatting with friends, making small talk with peers, or sharing personal experiences with family members.
2/ Context: Business communication is typically formal and professional in tone and style, as it often involves communicating with colleagues, clients, or other stakeholders in a business setting. General communication, on the other hand, can be more casual and informal in tone and purpose, as it may involve communicating with friends, family, or other partners in a social or personal setting.
3/ Tone and Style: Business communication is often more structured and formal in tone and style, as it typically requires a level of professionalism and respect. General communication, on the other hand, can vary in tone and style, depending on the context and purpose, and may be more relaxed and informal.
4/ Audience: Business communication often has a specific target audience, such as employees, customers, or stakeholders, and is tailored to their needs and interests. General communication involves communicating with anyone, irrespective of their relationship with the communicator.
5/ Structure and Format: Business communication often has a specific structure and format, such as report writing format for business communication, emails, and memos, which are designed to convey information in a clear and concise manner. General communication may not have a specific structure or format and may be more free-form and spontaneous.
6/ Medium: Business communication encompasses various forms of communication, including written documents like emails, memos, and business reports, as well as verbal forms like meetings and presentations. On the other hand, general communication includes both verbal and nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions.
7/ Language: Business communication often involves specific jargon and technical language that is relevant to the business or industry, and may not be easily understood by those outside of the industry. General communication typically uses everyday language and terminology that is more widely understood.
8/ Purpose of Communication: Business communication often involves persuasive communication, such as sales letters, proposals, or presentations, with the goal of influencing or convincing the audience. General communication may involve persuasive communication, but not necessarily in a business context.
9/ Feedback: In business communication, feedback is often given and received more formally, and with specific objectives in mind, such as improving performance or achieving a particular goal. General communication can involve feedback, but it is often more informal and may not be focused on a specific objective.
10/ Time Frame: Business communication often has a specific timeline and deadlines, as it is often tied to specific business communication objectives or events. General communication may not have a specific timeline or deadlines and may be more open-ended.
11/ Emphasis on Accuracy: Business communication often places a high emphasis on accuracy and precision, as errors or mistakes can have serious consequences for the business. Whereas the importance of accuracy and detailing in general communication may vary depending on the context and intended goal.
12/ Use of Visual Aids: Business communication may involve the use of visual aids, such as graphs, charts, or images, to help convey information more effectively. General communication may or may not involve the use of visual aids, depending on the context and purpose.
Related Reading: What are the importance and limitations of visual aids
13/ Conflict Resolution: Business communication often involves conflict resolution and negotiation, as conflicts can have a significant impact on the business. General communication may involve conflict resolution, but not necessarily in a business context.
14/ Emphasis on listening: Active listening is critical in business communication for understanding complex information and making informed decisions. Passive listening is more common in general communication, and the focus is on exchanging information and connecting with others.
15/ Consequences: When there are miscommunications or misunderstandings in business communication, it can result in severe impacts on the organization, such as financial loss, harm to reputation, and legal complications. Miscommunication or misunderstandings in general communication can strain personal relationships and lead to emotional distress.
Significance of Understanding the Differences between Business Communication and General Communication
Understanding the differences between business communication and general communication is significant because it helps individuals and organizations to communicate effectively and achieve their objectives.
For example, in a business setting, communication must be clear, concise, and professional, with a focus on achieving specific objectives, such as conveying information, making decisions, or negotiating deals.
In contrast, general communication may be more informal and relaxed, with a greater focus on building relationships, expressing emotions, and sharing personal experiences. By understanding these differences, individuals can communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships, both within and outside of the workplace.
Moreover, understanding the differences between business and general communication can also help individuals to develop important skills, such as active listening, effective writing, and persuasive speaking, which are essential for success in both personal and professional settings.
What is business communication?
The act of exchanging information and ideas within and between businesses or organizations, all with the aim of achieving business goals is known as business communication. It involves various forms of communication such as verbal, written, electronic, and visual, and can occur between employees, management, stakeholders, customers, and other parties involved in the business.
Good business communication skills are essential, as it allows for the smooth flow of information, ideas, and instructions between employees, management, customers, and other stakeholders.
Additionally, business communication is a crucial aspect of business operations, and organizations invest in improving their communication skills to enhance their competitiveness and achieve their strategic objectives.
What is general communication?
General communication refers to the exchange of information, ideas, thoughts, and feelings between individuals or groups of people. This can take place through a variety of means, such as face-to-face conversations, phone calls, text messages, social media platforms, and other forms of messaging.
Effective general communication involves using key principles of effective communication such as appropriate language and tone, being a good listener, and being able to convey messages clearly and concisely. It is essential for building strong relationships, fostering understanding, and resolving conflicts.
In summary, general communication is an essential element of our everyday lives, and it holds a crucial significance in our personal and professional connections. By being able to communicate effectively, we can connect with others, share our ideas, and achieve our goals.
Examples of business communication and general communication
Examples of business communication:
- Sending a formal email to a colleague about a project update or deadline.
- Conducting a conference call with team members or clients to discuss a new product launch or sales strategy.
- Giving a presentation to a group of investors or executives about the company’s financial performance.
- Writing a report or memo to communicate important information or recommendations to management.
- Negotiating with a vendor or supplier to secure a better deal for the company.
Examples of general communication:
- Having a casual conversation with a friend or family member about your plans for the weekend.
- Texting a friend to ask if they want to grab lunch together.
- Posting a status update on social media to share your thoughts or opinions about a current event.
- Participating in a group chat with classmates or colleagues to plan a social gathering.
- Making small talk with a stranger in an elevator or waiting room.
Difference between business communication and personal communication
Personal communication is usually informal and intended to maintain social relationships and connections, while business communication is typically more formal and intended to convey information related to business operations, transactions, or projects.
Understanding the differences between the two can help you communicate effectively in different settings, whether it’s with coworkers, clients, friends, or family.
To convey information related to business operations, transactions, or projects.
To build personal relationships, share experiences, and maintain social connections.
Formal, professional, and objective.
Casual, informal, and subjective.
Email, phone calls, video conferences, reports, memos, or presentations.
Text messages, social media, phone calls, in-person conversations, or handwritten notes.
Concise and to the point.
Length may vary depending on the purpose and nature of the communication.
Follows business etiquette and standards.
Follows social etiquette and norms.
Has a direct impact on the success of the business.
May not have a direct impact on the success of the business.
Difference between business communication and social communication
Achieve a specific goal
Establish and maintain relationships
Specific stakeholders (e.g. customers, employees)
Friends and acquaintances
Structured (e.g. memos, reports, presentations)
Unstructured (e.g. chatting, texting, social media)
Often initiated by the sender
Mutually initiated by both parties
Typically brief and to the point
Can be longer and more conversational
Can have significant consequences for business success
Less consequential and more social in nature
Difference between communication and business communication
Broad, includes all types of communication
Specific to communication within a business context
Can be for any purpose (e.g. social, personal, professional)
Primarily for achieving business objectives
Can be any individual or group
Specific stakeholders (e.g. employees, customers, partners)
Can be formal or informal
Typically more formal and professional
Can be any form of communication (e.g. verbal, written, nonverbal)
Includes specific types of communication (e.g. reports, memos, presentations)
Can lead to a variety of outcomes (e.g. understanding, agreement, action)
Typically aimed at achieving specific business outcomes (e.g. sales, customer satisfaction, productivity)
Difference between professional communication and general communication with examples
Professional communication and general communication differ in their purpose, tone, audience, and context. Professional communication refers to communication that occurs within a professional or work-related context, while general communication refers to any type of communication that occurs in our everyday lives.
For example, a professional email might begin with a formal greeting and include specific details about a project, while a casual conversation with a friend might include informal talk and jokes.
Another example would be in terms of context, for instance, a professional phone call might be made to a client to discuss a project, while a general phone call might be made to a family member to check in on their well-being.
Difference between General and technical communication
Convey information, ideas, or emotions to a general audience
Convey complex technical information to a specialized audience
Broad audience, regardless of technical background
Specific audience with specialized knowledge
Casual and informal
Formal and precise
Varied, can include personal or social topics
Specialized, focused on technical subject matter
Flexible, often unstructured
Structured, follows conventions and standards
Casual conversation, small talk, social media posts
Technical manuals, scientific reports, engineering specifications