The Six Pillars of Communication

Communication is the fuel that drives business. For business to function, people must work together to reach common goals. Such an end requires communication. Through communication, teams of people collaborate to share ideas, establish goals, and develop strategies. Consider any business, large or small: at any moment, managers in every business around the world respond to e-mail messages, write reports, draft memos, lead meetings, conduct interviews and participate in teleconferences. And others—employees, clients, supervisors—may not receive and perceive the message that was sent, thus impeding communication. Problems arise when employees lack an adequate understanding of the pillars of communication that ensure communication is carried out with purpose, understanding, honesty and safety in a legal and ethical manner.

6 Pillars of Communication

What are the 6 Pillars of Communication?

What does it take for business communication to be successful? Regardless of your role in a business, for your communication to be successful, you must communicate with purpose, know your audience, have the resources in place to transmit your message and have it received without interference. You must also follow an ethical code and the laws that govern communication, work cooperatively to integrate diverse ideas and ensure that the communication of sensitive information is conveyed securely.

These six pillars are outlined below.

1. Purpose

All communication needs a clearly defined purpose that specifies the objective and supporting information requirements for a particular assignment. Your purpose for a particular communication should define the situation and the need to be addressed. A clearly defined purpose will ensure you reach your objective by communicating the right information.

By defining a detailed purpose, you will be better prepared to identify the quantity and type of supporting information, facts and figures to make your case successfully. Think of the purpose of your message as the foundation of a construction project. A poorly developed foundation will not support a building. Therefore, as you construct your purpose, identify and assess the data you need to support your argument or explain your topic. As you define your purpose and objectives, you will also need to consider the information needs of your audience. What sort of background data will your audience need? Will the audience trust the information sources you quote?

2. Audience

Each person belongs to a variety of groups that are based on shared customs, values, attitudes, knowledge, language and beliefs. In some instances, to avoid bias, it is wise to think of your audience as individuals, rather than as stereotypical members of some particular group. In other instances, it may make sense to localize your content or target your communication to specific groups. In these instances, the value of diversity outweighs the few challenges of communication. When addressing some audiences, if you target your message to specific groups, you may create the sense that you are sensitive to diversity and expert in your field.

3. Resources

Messages can be transmitted through oral or written communication. Traditional communication channels include face-to-face meetings, memos and letters. However, new communication channels, such as social media, webinars and teleconferences, are increasingly the norm for business communication. The availability of inexpensive 24 hour translation services allows dissemination to global audiences.  When deciding on the type of channel to use to communicate your message, consider the audience, the location of your audience and their access. Embrace familiarity and adoption of new types of communication, but carefully evaluate how the infrastructure in each country limits the access to and effectiveness of particular types of communication media.

4. Ethics

Over the past decade, business ethics has become an increasingly popular concern among business leaders. Today, ethical awareness and training is popular in all businesses. In fact, many businesses have amended their mission statements to include ethical behavior. With harsher punishments being handed down to businesses, employees recognize that they cannot lie, make false claims, stretch the truth or make half-truth claims. Ethics is such an important subject that rules for ethical behavior must be upheld in communication.

5. Collaboration

Today more than ever, the success of your job and your messages rely on collaborating in cross-functional work teams. Many writing projects require collaboration among engineers, marketers, sales representatives, compliance officials and more. Common types of collaboration projects include sales proposals, employee manuals, training handbooks, websites, marketing collateral and financial reports that require input from multiple departments and disciplines. Since the increasing complexity of the workplace makes it impossible for one person to have the time and expertise to create detailed documents, business communicators require skills in teamwork.

6. Security

In today’s business world, businesses must be committed to protecting sensitive financial, engineering, marketing, employee and client data. Businesses must ensure the safe handling of all messages and information to prevent corporate crime involving internal and external sources of fraud, theft, insider trading, ethical breaches, and political misconduct. Internal corporate crime, including the misuse of information, is trending upward at a dangerous rate.  Because it can destroy a business’s reputation and subject it to legal and social scrutiny, it is toxic and can be lethal.

8 thoughts on “The Six Pillars of Communication

  1. Shantanu Sinha


    WOW! Those are some really great pillars for having a better communication.

    Totally agreed with all the 6 points you discussed about.
    Thank you for sharing this among us.
    Shantanu sinha

  2. B Clutterbuck

    You tend to see a lot of these so-called pillars, but this remains one of my favourite because you include Security. I think it’s often overlooked and undervalued when considering business practices and specifically communication. Communication is becoming even more important with business and the methods to communicate are so large and diverse it’s harder to keep them secure. All it takes is one slip up for business clients and collaborations to lose trust.

    Were there any pillars of communication that you considered but left out of the final list?

  3. Abby M

    I think with social media playing such a huge role in business now communication is more important than ever. If you’re not communicating with customers, business partners and so on that is one major source of not only potential customers but increasing your brand awareness and equity.

  4. businessnews88

    Great summary you have here, business communication is much different to everyday communication. I had my own mantra that I used to remind me to communicate effectively, and that was Clear, Concise, Complete, Consistent.
    You have covered them all here really because to be consistent, concise and complete you have to have purpose. To be clear you have to know your audience.
    I might have to turn this list in to a catchy way to remember effective business communication after reading this 🙂

  5. Dhruv Patel

    If you ask me if I ever know anything that could kill a business so fast, even more than plague, I will tell you is lack of communication. Communicating ideas and opinions both within and outside with clients, customers, and audience is very essential for the survival of any business. Good post.

  6. Cindy

    Great post. Indeed communication is very vital. In fact it’s not just about communicating, but communicating the right information; and that’s where a purpose-driven communication comes in when it comes to building a successful business. Correct and timely information must be communicated across to all members of the team.

  7. admin

    There were others, but generally I thought they could fall under those already listed. What are your thoughts?

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