Ever since the evolution of civilization, homo-sapiens required some medium to exchange their thoughts amongst themselves. The process was defined as communication and various mediums were developed to facilitate it effectively, timely and safely. Now a day, apart from old school face-to-face conversations, people use e-mail, text messages and phone calls or chat-engines for communications. Even when these mediums are highly advanced, the basic ground rules of effective communication have not changed much. In fact, I personally feel that due to the technological advancements in the mediums of communication, the need to reinforce the basic etiquettes has become even more pivotal now.
So, there are personal communications and then there are business communications. You are the king of your personal life and mostly you are not judged on the basis of ways in which you handle things. But in professional life, opinions are being formed about you by watching your every action. In fact, in many cases, perceptions are formed just by seeing the way an e-mail has been written or in the way communication on telephone happened. For being successful, one needs to manage his image/perception in the right way apart from having the skill-set and determination. So, one needs to chisel down his communication skills in order to be successful and that effect will rub on the personal life also.
So, let us try to cover the three most used modes phone, texting and e-mail. I will talk about phone first because more often than not people find it extremely convenient to just pick up the phone and talk. In case, you are making a call, start with the greetings and introduce yourself briefly (in case you are speaking for the first time. Then before stating the agenda of the call, ask for the person for whom the call is. Listening actively and focusing on the person in conversation is the most important ingredient of a smooth telephonic conversation (both ways). Watch your volume level during the conversation because if you are talking that doesn’t gives you a license to disturb others.
An etiquette that one must follow while picking a call is that the receiver must receive it till it rings three times. Also, as per me one most abused etiquette during the telephonic conversation is that one party doesn’t informs the other before taking further actions as in putting on hold, connecting to some other person, taking in a conference or for that matter putting the phone in speaker mode. These mistakes leave a bad taste in the mind of other party. And finally, the conversation should not end abruptly. It must always end on a closing note such as ‘Have a nice day’. It is advisable that one must not leave long voicemails. Just state the reason that you called and ask them to revert as soon as possible. That’s it!!
Now, what happens if you call somebody but they are not available and you need to convey your message immediately? Texting comes in for the rescue. However, please note that texting is not a formal mode of communication. Importantly, if your message is more than 160 characters, you should switch to other mode of communication. It is advisable that you should tell that who you are in the very beginning if you have even miniscule doubt that the recipient might not have saved your contact. Mind your tone while texting because in no way you can repair the damage done to your image/relation once the recipient gets offended by the tone of your text. The best way to avoid such miss-happening is by being crisp, simple and to the point during texting. Lastly, proofread every word of your text before hitting send button to avoid embarrassing situations later. Etiquette wise, you can reply to a text in the next 48 hours and you should try to reply as many texts as possible.
Lastly, the most extensively used tool for the communication, the e-mail. If you are drafting a fresh e-mail, always start with greetings. Please…please…please try to avoid typos!!! They make you look very unprofessional along with using shortcuts like u (for ‘you’), dere (for ‘there’) etc. Make it a habit of mentioning subject. Usage of a professional e-mail address is advisable in place of funky e-mail addresses if you are communicating via your personal e-mail id. Don’t overuse the high priority option. It is provided there for a purpose. Don’t abuse it by using it in every e-mail of yours otherwise recipients won’t even open your e-mails. Use your signature to give opportunity to the recipients to know more about you by giving links of your social media profiles.
While replying to-mails please don’t use ‘reply to all’ feature until it is seriously required. I am sure you would agree that not everybody wants to know your opinion. Also, in ‘to’ list keep the persons from whom you are expecting a response and ‘cc’ only those for whom the communication concerned is for information purpose. Be sure to include the information to which you are replying for keeping a track of the communication. Always try to personalize the communication by using active voice during communication instead of passive voice.
Before forwarding e-mail, please have the basic courtesy of cleaning it because the recipients might not be interested in reading the commentary of earlier recipients. And don’t forget to proofread the e-mail in any case before sending it. Generally, ask before sending any attachment to the recipient as in what will be the appropriate time to send the attachment. The recipients might get offended if you sent attachment without asking and it resulted in bouncing of some important mails for the recipient.
Thus, in a nutshell, a communication is effective only when it has solved its purpose without causing any inconvenience to other parties and to self. I hope, you will double tick all the above-discussed points before doing any corporate communication in your respective careers. All the best!
Contributed by Sthita Sahu