Business Writing AdviceBusiness, Writing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2014

What Your Daily Professional Communication Reveals About You

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Noted American author Mark Twain, knew better than most how powerful communication can be. In fact, here is his advice concerning word choice in communicating: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. And he was right. Choosing the right words based on context, audience and purpose separates effective communicators from ineffective ones across the board at every level of every business enterprise.

What this means is that communicating with others is a nuanced art. In order to do it correctly, you have to understand that words have layers of meaning and those meanings can change, depending on audience and context. In such, a smart communicator always considers his or her context (setting), intent and audience before choosing which words to use and the way in which to use them. This type of approach to communication makes the act more powerful, more efficient and more beneficial for you or your career.

In fact, a professional's style of communication and ability to communicate effectively can often make or break a business transaction or deal. It's the reason why communication—both written and verbal—is a skill that is highly sought after by companies who want employees that will build the company's reputation through excellent customer service and top-notch professionalism in everything they do. Communication is key to interaction, and interaction—both with fellow employees and with present or potential clients—is vital to a business's success.

For this reason, if you are a professional, you should stop for a moment to take an honest assessment of your current communication methods and strategies to determine if what you are doing is portraying the picture you want to portray about the level of professionalism you hope to provide for your clients and business associates. Your communication throughout the business day—whether it's a quick email to a co-worker or a letter written to a potential client—reveals more than you realize about what kind of professional you are, and what your idea of professionalism entails.

Below are some of the things your daily business communication may reveal about you, whether you want it to or not:

If you're distracted

As communication between smartphones and other mobile devices has become the new norm, it is easy to forego traditional salutations and closings and opt for a more curt approach. After all—if it feels like texting, why not just apply the informal "feel" of texting to your words, right? From a professional standpoint, this is a very incorrect assumption that can be harmful to your reputation, as well as that of your company.

While the prevalence of email as a primary communication tool has admittedly lowered the level of formality that was once used in business communication, accessing that email on smartphones and tablets can run the risk of lowering it even further, until the communication doesn't come across as professional at all. In many cases of professional emails sent while "on the go" and "via smartphones," the result ends up reading like a curt, impolite communication style that sounds more like texts than professional business communication.

If you choose to (or are forced to) answer work emails on a mobile device, keep in mind that it is still likely to be read as an email on the receiver's end. Any greetings or closings that you would typically use in email correspondence should be retained, even if it takes longer to type the words on your mobile device. If the email correspondence is between you and a co-worker, so that the salutations and closings are not necessary, that is one thing; writing with that level of informality to clients, however, or to potential associates with whom you are not in daily communication, is something that should always be avoided.

You should also be aware that returning emails via a mobile device often entails writing that communique while distracted by other things around you. Your words will not be as carefully chosen as they would have been if you were less distracted, and your response will likely reflect this distraction. Also, issues like incorrect spelling and grammar, or incorrectly typed words, often occur when professionals conduct correspondence this way.

If you enjoy your job

The amount of passion and energy you bring to your work is reflected in your day-to-day written communication with co-workers and clients. Don't be fooled by the electronic nature of the communication—the words you choose and their "tone" will play a large role in determining how the audience of those words perceives you. Someone who enjoys what they do will take the extra time to make sure communication is successful—whether it's several follow-up questions or touching base to make sure a task is going smoothly.

If you're lazy

A lazy professional will ask questions of others, both in written and verbal communication, that can be found online readily or in another easily accessed source. To avoid doing this, be sure that the questions you ask in your email are directed to the best party to answer them. If it's a question that can be found with a quick Google search or a look at the client's website or file, find the answer yourself. Being a self-sufficient professional who doesn't add workload to others (who are likely stressed under their own workload) speaks volumes for your level of consideration for others and your understanding of following a team-oriented approach.

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