Communications: The Virtual Backbone of Your Business

Good day and welcome to my blog spot!

That simple opening can help set the tone for whatever your message is to follow. I could just have easily opened with: You can permanently damage your eyes by staring at the sun for a minute and a half. My opening was a bit more casual and informal; as opposed to the second option which is a bit more dramatic, informative and concerning.

In the course of business, what you say to a client or potential can be just as important as the manner in which you deliver that message. When speaking to a client in person, I try to let them give me as much information as possible and ask logical follow-up questions on any perceived gaps or vague information. While doing this, I think it is important to be aware of posture, facial expressions, gestures and appearance. Most of these checklist items are irrelevant while on the phone unless it’s a video chat session. But as a general rule I try to be the same on the phone as I would be if the person was in front of me. Even though the other person may not be able to see my actions or expressions, a certain amount of distraction and tone can seep into a conversation and be perceived by the other person as being forced or not giving the conversation your full attention.

Now we come to something that pervades most businesses in today’s society: electronic communication. Many individuals have email on their smart phones to go along with their work computers. If I counted the number of business emails I typically send in a year’s time, it would probably number in the thousands. But before I send each one, I usually re-read it before I hit the Send button. Initially I am looking for typing and grammar errors, then I try to put myself in the receiver’s shoes. What am I asking them for or what information am I needing clarified? As the email is constructed right now, what response am I looking to receive? Is the tone business friendly? Did I convey a sense of urgency? If I am replying, am I answering their questions thoroughly?

There are a handful of other basic questions but working from a mental template that I’ve developed over the years, I tend to try to keep the message direct, simple and cordial. Adequate business writing is so vital to the company image and can instill a level of confidence in you from your client. Yes there are times after you have established a relationship with the client that you can be less formal and more casual but ask yourself, “What if this email went to your boss or a potential client?” Now how do you feel about how what you wrote? What if there is some sort of misunderstanding and every communication with this client gets reviewed? What kind of picture does this paint of you professionally?

I know it sounds like I am putting a great emphasis on an email that can probably be composed and sent in about 45 seconds; true but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A few extra seconds to re-read your work can save many awkward, unpleasant apologies down the line. Omitting a single word can completely change the context of a communication or an innocent typo can cast your message into question and confusion. Just go back to the age old saying: A stitch in time saves nine. My meaning? A smidge more work on the front end saves more work on the back end. I for one would rather do as many things just once and not have to repeat them because laziness got the better of me.

Hopefully you have an enjoyable weekend upcoming. Use the time to refresh and refocus on your future path and I hope to have more for you to read soon.

— Scott Latta —

(Previously Published under my former employer’s Blog Site – 6 of 6)

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