Levine Communications Office

One of America's Premier Public Relations Firms

Check out these 12 communication basics everyone should know!

Posted by Levine Communications Office on September 14, 2012

You know that saying about not getting a second chance to make a good first impression when you meet someone?

Well, when you’re communicating with someone, especially if it’s electronically or by phone, you get even less slack—particularly when it’s for work. That’s when lost opportunities can have bottom-line consequences.

If you want the prospect to open your email, the client to return your call, or the journalist to read your pitch, you’ve got to communicate impeccably.

Here are some of my favorite basics:

1. Voice mail greeting

Smile when you record it. You don’t want to sound perky, just pleasant. Listen to the difference when you record the message while wearing a happy face—it might surprise you.

2. Email subject line

Never leave it blank. This rudely assumes that whatever you have to say is so important that the recipients will open it anyway. Think of the subject as a headline. Tease the main point there. A short, catchy, specific subject is sure to get a quicker response than the dreaded “following up” or “hi.”

3. Email message body

In a business-related email, leave out the emoticons, especially when the message is being sent to your superiors or more than one person.

4. All communication

Ask or notice if the recipient has a preferred way to be contacted. Some live and breathe through texting. Email is best for others. And others still want calls. Your message will be received more effectively if it comes in on the channel your audience prefers.

5. Phone calls

When on a phone call, be present. It’s obvious—and disrespectful—when callers are distracted and multitasking. If it’s not a good time to talk, just say so, and arrange another time to speak.

6. Conference calls

Thankfully, many conference calls are muted by the moderator or administrator. But if the one you’re on is not muted automatically, do so anyway. It is so annoying to hear someone munching, typing, or snoring (yep, I’ve heard that) on a conference call. Even background noise can be distracting.

7. Conversations in person or on the phone

Allow the other person to finish their sentence. It’s polite and civil, and helps keep conversations that way, too.

8. Interrupting

But if necessary to interject—and sometimes it is—use a trick like: “So allow me to stop you there…” Or, “To clarify, I’d like to ask…” Or, “OK, so to respond to your point…”

9. “I’ll have to get back about that”

No problem. Just make sure to do so. And promptly.

10. Meetings

People (peers and managers) know who’s listening and contributing—and who’s checking their phones. Participate and respect the task at hand.

11. Starting a conversation

Whether popping into someone’s office or calling them on the phone, take a moment to ask if it’s a good time.

12. Written communication

The tone of voice, facial gestures, and other communication clues are absent in a memo or an email. Make sure to use please, thank you, and other signs of manners in written communication. Those soften a tone that, otherwise, can sound colder or harsher than intended.

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