Communication is vital for the maintenance of any healthy relationship. It’s also fundamental when it comes to conducting business deals, marketing products, networking with other professionals, and other work-related endeavors. However, professional communication has its own rules and regulations that differ from personal communication. That’s why professionals should understand what makes successful communication work, and why that success is so important to smooth business operations and career development.

Offer Succinct Answers

In most cases, short and succinct answers are best practice. Clear and concise communication eliminates time wasted on meandering points, giving other professionals the opportunity to speak and ask for clarification if need be. Unreasonably lengthy conversations and emails can be not just counterproductive, but also inconsiderate. As Forbes Technology Council member Payman Taei writes, “By making an effort to be as concise as possible in ALL areas of business, you’ll find that people won’t just be more receptive to your message—your business itself will be more successful.” As an example, Payman Taei references meetings, which may be the bane of some office members but are actually vital for smooth operations. The key, Payman writes, is to keep meetings concise.

“Keep it simple,” Payman writes. “Not only are you literally saving time, but you’re preventing bad choices and bad decisions based on irrelevant information down the road.

Be Conscious of Body Language

Communication isn’t limited to spoken and written words; nonverbal forms of communication such as facial expressions and body language are equally important in getting a message across and interpreting incoming ideas. When conversing with a manager, a fellow employee, or a client, your body language should portray the confidence and passion that you feel about your job and place of business. Hunched shoulders, darting eyes, and fidgeting hands are a few signs that you may not be confident in what you’re saying or doing. Practice straightening out your posture, and while you’re at it, learn to read the body language and expressions of your coworkers. Understanding how others think and feel, especially if it doesn’t quite match up with what they’re saying, can be an important step in learning to understand and empathize with them.

Learn to Listen

When we think of communication, we often think of it as a one-way process, where one person talks and the other listens. However, communication is a two-way street with a constant stream of traffic, with listeners reacting to information and becoming communicators in their own right. Therefore, successful communication is about more than sharing information; it’s also about listening to another’s thoughts, ideas, and observations to better understand how they think and how you can refine your communication strategies. On the surface level, listening requires patience—not interrupting a coworker, for starters, and focusing on the words so you can ask for clarification when necessary. It goes deeper than that, though, as listeners must also be sure to remember and interpret that information to complete tasks successfully.