Mastering the art of communication is not an easy task, and yet it is one that opens countless windows of opportunities, especially in your career. Nancy Varghese brings you the basic pointers to keep in mind for effective communication at the workplace
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”, said George Bernard Shaw. Nearly every organisation in today’s day and age will know exactly what that problem feels like. It’s extremely easy to play the blame game in a company that doesn’t have its communicational lines set firmly in place at its very inception. If you don’t know who you are answerable to and who you are responsible for, the result is that of total chaos and unprofessionalism. Some firms prefer to maintain an open-door policy, encouraging employees to walk in with their grievances and have them addressed as and when they choose to discuss the same. Many others are very keen on having communication channels that flow vertically, which means, as an employee, you may have to climb all the rungs steadily till you make it to the concerned person to whom you wish to speak to. Which is why, identifying the type of organisations you are working for, is among the first things to do when you are hired as an employee.
Start with the basics
When organisations proceed to share their contact information with people, it is common knowledge that the CEO or the founder of the above-mentioned organisations will not be the ones to provide their direct contact number or address. You are to go through the formally designed hierarchy of the management and this will definitely involve being patient enough to state your name and purpose at every level of screening that you may have to go through. As frustrating and time consuming it may seem, these are standard rules of protocol that you must go through, irrespective of how important your cause may be. This is also to ensure that people at the highest level of authority are not badgered by seemingly trivial issues that can be solved by professionals at lower levels of the same organisation.
Address the “Wh” questions
You may have successfully placed your call to a certain individual at an organisation and may have been asked to perhaps follow up on the conversation at a later date. Every workplace attends innumerable phone calls in the span of a day and it would be very presumptuous of you to call and expect to continue your conversation at the same point where you left off. Conversation recall is of utmost importance to make sure the recipient of your message knows exactly what you are talking about. So make sure you state the answers to the five questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Ensure that the person on the other end of the call recognizes you and remembers your previous conversation before proceeding with the updates of the same.
Call up, then show up
No matter how polite or generous someone may sound over the phone when they speak to you, know that it’s because they have a rapport to maintain between their organisation and yours, and being rude or nonresponsive isn’t going to help achieve that. This does not mean that you can take advantage of their apparent niceness and assume they are going to be welcoming when you show up at the organisation unannounced. In most cases, you first send an email to the address mentioned, followed by a phone call, an appointment and then showing up at the decided time and venue. Sometimes, the person you want to meet may not be available or may not necessarily want to meet you according to your convenience because they could have prior appointments themselves. An uninvited guest is not always appreciated and neither are unscheduled visits. Allow the host organisation to prepare and arrange for your arrival so that they can give you their undivided attention. This ensures stability and smooth-flowing communication between the two of you.
Basic email etiquette you must know and follow
- Use appropriate salutations at the beginning (Dear sir/ma’am/ name of recipient)
- Divide your email into separate structured paragraphs instead of a large chunk of text
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Use a spell check, if necessary
- State the subject of your email in one line, keeping it brief and concise
- Use formal language, keeping in mind there may be other recipients to the email
- Use short forms or slang (hey/yo/sup/y/u)
- Mention or inquire about the personal lives of individuals in a professional email
- Type in the upper case throughout the email unless it qualifies as an emergency
- Begin emails without a subject or an introduction stating the specifics of the content
- End an email without mentioning your name, designation and the company you represent
Communication is key to building and maintaining any sort of relationship. It holds the power to make and break a company/career/relationship. So make sure you follow the basics of communication.