Email and instant messaging have been the foundation of business communication for many decades. Email is the revolutionary medium that moved communication from paper and telephone into the digital environment. The world as we know it now wouldn’t have been possible without this simple, yet effective method of communication. As for instant messaging, even though at first it was used more for personal matters, nowadays an enormous part of business communication takes place on chat.
From discussions among team members, to customer service, most companies rely on both email and chat to conduct their business communication.
In this article, we are going to explore some ways to make both these mediums more effective and ultimately improve your business communication.
Email communication tips
One of the greatest benefits of email communication is that it is accessible to anyone, at any time, from anywhere. Furthermore, because it is asynchronous, it provides enough time to formulate an answer. This allows people to get relevant information and reformulate until they are satisfied with the result.
Question is: can we make it more efficient? Of course! Here’s how.
Be friendly and respectful
Remember that kindness will always accomplish much more on a personal level. Even when you are addressing your email to an organization, there is a person behind the screen who reads your email. So, whether you are demanding, asking, or complaining about something, do your best to keep a respectful tone.
Keep it short
Short emails containing one or two paragraphs are more effective than those of three or more paragraphs. People value their time and tend to lose interest fast, especially if the content is not highly important for them. While some people don’t read long emails at all, others lose interest or have difficulties in remembering everything they read. So leave aside unnecessary details and keep your emails clear and concise.
No room for “gremmar” errors
Many people believe that content is more important than form, and this is mostly true, up to a point. Your image can take a hard hit if your emails are full of spelling errors and internet slang abbreviations. It might look gr8 in your friends’ chat group and maybe save 2 mins of ur time, but IRL people tend to literally RBTL when you do that.
IMHO, the only acceptable way to write a work-related email is by double-checking for grammar errors or other mistakes that could make you look unprofessional.
Avoid irritating formulations
Some of the phrases often used in emails can be either pointlessly dull or bluntly annoying. Yet, everyone uses them without even thinking about the effect they might trigger in the recipient. According to this 2018 Consumer Email Survey, the most annoying phrase notoriously used in emails is: Not sure if you saw my last email… Go figure 😉
There are countless reasons why someone might ignore your email, but not seeing it is rarely one of them. Avoid using this phrase, and if you need an urgent reply, better use another communication medium.
Email is not always appropriate
Even though we are all used to email communication, thinking of it as a simple and secure way to pass on information, that is not always the case. For example, very long emails are to be avoided, since the longer an email, the less efficient it is. Also, highly confidential information should never be put into email. Besides the fact that you cannot have any control over forwarding, every email is being stored somewhere, on a server. Simply deleting the message doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.
Email might be fast, but it’s definitely not the fastest communication channel. Synchronous communication, such as phone calls, video calls, and chat, are preferred by people who need to work together in real-time.
Chat communication tips
In this day and age, chat is the most popular form of communication, especially among young people. Additionally to its real-time nature, chat has the great advantage of allowing more persons in, without any hassle. More and more companies are working with teamwork apps that offer instant communication and collaboration options.
As we all conduct business and work conversations on instant messaging, here are some tips that will make chat communication more effective.
Keep your focus
Unlike writing an email, chatting doesn’t allow enough time to re-read your message several times and reformulate until you are happy with the result. In business and work-related chat, you need to keep a sharp focus and think things through in a very short time, before hitting enter.
However, if you find yourself in a though spot, it’s better to take some extra time than getting into trouble. There is no shame in admitting that you don’t have all the answers right on the spot. Let me check this and get back to you can work wonders sometimes 🙂
Be patient and listen
Sometimes, this might seem harder than it looks, but it’s one of the most important rules of communication. Especially when conversations get heated, we tend to do more talking than listening, and that is a mistake. Therefore, it is very important to listen and make sure you understood what others are trying to say. And this is another great perk of synchronous communication: it offers the possibility of asking follow-up questions and setting things clear immediately.
Keep on-topic, on ONE topic
Especially when more people are involved in a group chat, things can get chaotic if they start discussing more issues at a time. Since not all teams have a designated chat moderator ready to intervene and get everyone back to business, it is important for all participants to moderate themselves. So, try to remember that it is your responsibility to keep the conversation on topic.
Keep It Short and Simple! You should avoid writing long and complicated phrases before hitting enter. First of all, long sentences are harder to read and increase the possibility of misunderstanding. Then, taking too much time to reply in chat might either keep the others waiting for too long, or the conversation moving on from the subject in the meantime.
Both situations are unpleasant to say at least. Luckily, you can avoid that simply by formulating short sentences and keeping it simple.
The same key principles
Even though synchronous is different from asynchronous communication, the key principles are similar. Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, and in the business world, it can make or break deals, redefine partnerships and highly influence the workplace. Therefore, we have to acknowledge its importance and always follow its key principles: polite, friendly, accurate, and to the point.
Do you have other tips to share with us and your fellow readers? Please do so in the comments section below.