8 Tips for Professional Communication

Is the image you broadcast the best version of you? I was asked recently to record a short insert on professional email and telephone conduct. It made  think of the context each individual sends and receives communication.

Do you feel like nobody takes you seriously? Do you feel your colleagues are condescending or do you find them lazy, entitled and acting like slobs? Do you question someone’s integrity?

Every single person has a very unique life-story, history and personality type. On top of that we come from very specific generations and cultures that moulded our thinking and the stories we tell ourselves. It is not strange to find four to five generations in one company these days. The way we communicate and the way we receive the communication are influenced by the back-story of who we are.

How on earth does one navigate through such a minefield of emotions and personalities?

Big organisations usually have a brand- and conduct manual  that give guidelines with regards to dress code, email, social media and other protocol. But small business seldom has such a manual. If you work for yourself or have just graduated you don’t have such a manual at all, unless you devise a code of conduct for yourself. This is your map to navigate through this minefield of communication traps and it forms part of how your personal brand is experienced.

Communication is such a broad subject and touches on all the ways that you broadcast your personal brand. How we speak (or don’t speak), how we dress, how well groomed we are, how we write or engage on social media and who we associate with are all ways in which you communicate your personal brand.

In this article I share quick tips to dust the cobwebs and polish up that personal brand.

Email ditches

4 Email Ditches to Avoid:

Ditch 1: Emails are productivity black holes

Ditch 2: What does your email look like?

Ditch 3: Buy a Dictionary!

Ditch 4: Think before you send!

4 Email Ditches to Avoid:

Ditch 1: Emails are productivity black holes

Minimise the time you spend answering emails. It is very easy to spend a whole day just answering emails. Schedule specific times in your day and limit the time you spend in your Inbox. Prioritize emails, act accordingly and then close your Inbox to focus on your next task.

Ditch 2: What does your email look like?

Is there a clear description in the Subject line? Do you use a classic font that is easy to read? Do you use a professional e-signature that displays your contact details, designation and social media information? Do your emails have a professional look and lots of white space?

Ditch 3: Buy a Dictionary!

Or use Spell Checker, but please avoid over-use of capital letters, exclamation marks and other punctuation. Avoid humour, risqué comments, vulgar language or sarcasm (not everybody has your sense of humour). Please stop with the texting shorthand! Nobody understands what you mean and it looks like you never went to school, write out your words and leave the LOL’s and emoticons for your mates. 

Ditch 4: Think before you send!

Are you defusing a situation or pouring petrol on the flames? Are the relevant people copied in, in terms of job description, level and team duties?

Never assume your email reached its destination. A telephone call to confirm its safe passage is critical.


4 Telephone Blunders to Avoid

Blunder 1: Manners makes man (and woman)

Blunder 2: Private Calls

Blunder 3: Respect boundaries

Blunder 4: Integrity with info

Phone Blunders

Which brings me to the 4 telephone blunders to avoid.

Between you and me, I also prefer emails. I can thing about it and phrase it well. It is also a great way of keeping track of a project or task that needs to be done. But eventually you will have to pick up that phone and make human contact.

Blunder 1: Manners makes man (and woman)

Smile before you answer a call and say your name and the company you work for, this makes someone on the other side feel important and welcome. You can hear a frown or a smile. Be polite, it costs absolutely nothing and speak volumes about your character.

Blunder 2: Private Calls

At work the only private calls you are supposed to take are death or emergency related. When you sign your contract with your employer, your employer buys a certain amount of time from you. When you chat about the movie tonight or the weekend’s party, you are stealing from your employer and you loose focus. Switch your phone to silent and limit the times you check it for those death/emergency messages. By the way…your boyfriend/girlfriend cancelling tonight’s plan does not constitute an emergency.

Blunder 3: Respect boundaries

Just because we all have smartphones doesn’t mean we have to be available all the time just for you. Respect office hours, boundaries and privacy. This is especially a trap that entrepreneurs often blunder into – just because I catch up on my admin and emails over the weekend doesn’t mean you are available to text or talk to me.

Blunder 4: Integrity with info

You never just share a contact’s number with a third party but always asks permission. It is just plain good manners.

The stories we tell ourselves of ourselves and others leave a residue that stays for a long, long while. First impressions last and all that…it is your personal brand and you can consciously work on a stellar, A class, super duper brand or plod along thinking that people don’t like you.

As the author Maya Angelou said: People will forget what you said and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.