Today’s professionals can stand out among their peers by simply developing appropriate communication habits. Of course, good communication requires proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, but other considerations are just as important.
Email and text messaging are among the greatest business tools ever invented. They have increased productivity and lowered communication costs exponentially. Unfortunately, these technologies sometimes tempt us to be lazy, careless communicators.
Too many professionals write business emails the way they text their closest friends: “How R U? Cool seeing U – i up 2 L8 last nite! – LMAO.” While this may make complete sense to you, it’s a foreign language to many. Even if a colleague understands “emailese,” business writing should be professional.
Similarly, be careful in your choice of email addresses. I’m amazed at the juvenile-sounding email addresses I have seen printed on business cards. If you have a silly or suggestive email address, ditch it. Nobody wants to conduct serious business with “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Nobody is going to hire “email@example.com.”
Cell phones have revolutionized productivity, but with that revolution has come one of the biggest mistakes a business person can make – rudely interrupting a face-to-face business meeting to take another call.
You may think that taking calls at any time makes you more efficient. This is a fallacy. Every time you take a call during a meeting, you have to pause, offering an insincere apology for your intention to take a call. Then you speak on the phone. Because there is someone sitting across the table staring at you, you will probably not be at total liberty to say all that you would if the conversation was more private, which means you’ll be calling the person a second time after the meeting.
When you finally hang up, you then take time to apologize for the interruption. Then it takes time to catch back up to where you were in your first conversation. Meanwhile, the momentum and flow of your meeting has been compromised. This is inefficient and ends up costing you more time in the long run.
Even worse, answering a cell phone is incredibly inconsiderate of the other person. Everyone is busy – not just you. For every minute that your meeting counterpart has to sit staring at you conversing with someone you perceive to be more important, he or she becomes restless, irritated and resentful of you.
If you truly want to make an impression with colleagues and clients, make a commitment to communicating properly and politely. Your reputation depends on it.
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