Technically speaking, communication is the process of exchange of information between two or more communicating entities. It includes the sharing of views or opinions, conveying of information, and listening with the intent of understanding each other. At the root of communication is the human need of expression and good communication results in healthy exchange of ideas or information. Communicating is a daily activity; be it at home, with friends, socially, or in office; we are in communication with someone or the other, throughout the day.
The etiquette for communicating with friends is different from that followed in office. The communication with seniors, colleagues, or juniors in office, as well as that with business clients is of the formal type, whereas we can be informal when interacting socially. The setting and the people we are interacting with, are determinants of the way we communicate. This Workspirited article tells you what effective office communication means, and its importance in business.
Office communication includes that between employees, the employer-employee communication, that in management meetings and business talks, and that with the company's clients. The interactions between co-workers influence the work environment and organizational culture. The communication with clients has a direct effect on the company's business.
Office communication can be classified as verbal and non-verbal. The former includes telephonic talks and direct conversations between two or more people. The non-verbal type includes written communication; mostly done via emails. Be it of any type and using any medium, the bottom line is to make it effective. The clarity of thought and expression of the speaker, and the listening and grasping abilities of the receiver, contribute to making a communication effective. Here we look at two common ways of verbal and written office communication; telephone and email.
Communicating over the Telephone (Verbal)
- While conversing on phone, remember to start the conversation by introducing yourself. Tell the receiver your name and the purpose of your call. Don't forget that you are taking his time.
- Keep your conversation brief and precise. Make your point without wasting time, which is to say come to the main topic quickly.
- A conversation over the phone does not involve face-to-face communication because of which body language (hand gestures or facial expressions) do not support it. The exception to this is a video call where the people in conversation can see each other.
- Respect the age and position of the person you are talking to. Even if you are not seeing each other, your tone and volume should reflect your respect.
- And even when talking to someone younger or lower in position, you should not be rude.
- Do not end a call abruptly. Make your point, give the person on the other side a chance to respond, and end the conversation with a suitable farewell. Thank him for giving you his time.
- If the person you want to communicate with, isn't reachable, leave him a message. Here again, be clear and crisp. If the point to be conveyed is small, include it in the message itself. But it is always better to request him to call you back. To make it easy for him to reply, leave your contact number in the message.
- If you are on the receiver's side, be prompt in replying to unattended calls. It could be something important or urgent. So ensure that all the unanswered calls are responded to.
Electronic Communication (Written)
- In case of a phone call, there is immediate feedback and it's almost like communicating face to face. Many find it easier to communicate verbally than in writing. Email communication lacks these attributes. Of course, it has the advantages of written communication and people sitting in different parts of the world (different time zones) can communicate easily through emails. Also, accent problems that may be faced in a telephonic communication are eliminated with emails.
- Start the email with the right salutation. Considering the position and age of the receiver, refer to him or her as Sir/Madam. Ensure that you are spelling their name right.
- Phone calls may or may not be recorded, but email communication is in the written form. Words may be misinterpreted, and there is no chance to explain what was perhaps misunderstood. For example, in a phone call, the person on the other side can ask you to explain your points in simpler words or quickly tell you if he is not getting your point. This does not happen in case of emails. There is a time lag, and it is when the other party replies to your email, that you know if he has understood your point or not.
- For written communication to be clear, be precise and make a thoughtful use of words. If the email is long, give it a flow by distributing different ideas across paragraphs or in separate points.
- Remember to run a spell-check and proofread your writing. Do not make grammatical mistakes. Errors in writing can spoil your impression.
- Maintain a formal tone throughout the email. Be courteous in your writing.
- End your email in the right way. Thank the receiver for reading it, and if you expect him to respond immediately or before a certain date, mention that in a polite way.
- When replying to emails, the same rules should be followed. If the email needs you to respond within a certain time period, you should remember to reply in time.
- The 'forward', 'cc', and 'bcc' options should be used carefully. If you need to keep someone in the loop about the communication, it is recommended that you send him/her a copy of your email.
- This may sound basic, but it is important that the email is sent to the right people. The email address should be checked twice before sending the email.
Communication Within Office
- Understand and accept the fact that people around you come from different educational and/or family backgrounds, and belong to different age groups. You might have to adopt different ways of communicating with each of them.
- Your way and tone of communication impacts your relations with the co-workers. A healthy communication contributes to a positive office environment.
- In assigning work and getting it done, you may have to tackle different people in different ways. Also, you will need to be clear about what work needs to be done by them and in how much time.
- The right use of words is essential. Strictly, no personal comments should be made. During meetings too, discussions should be related to work, and not people.
- If you are given the responsibility of conveying a management decision to the employees or your team members, you should be precise and leave no scope for doubt in their minds. You should be clear in the communication and also be ready to solve their queries.
Communication Outside Office
- This mainly includes the communication with business clients, that during business negotiations or in contracts, and that with vendors. In all these, a third party is involved and you represent your organization.
- Any communication involving a party outside office has to be handled carefully, as it can affect the impression of your organization or the business as a whole.
- You may need to be extra-polite when dealing with clients, listen to their concerns, and show the preparedness to address them. You should be ready to listen to their complaints about your organization and keep your calm while doing so.
- It should be remembered that you are communicating on behalf of your organization and that you should reflect the ethics and culture of your business.
Be it verbal or written, use of the right words and the right tone, coupled with clarity of expression, go on to make any communication effective.