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VOL. 130 | NO. 168 | Friday, August 28, 2015

Angela Copeland

The Art of Interoffice Communication

By Angela Copeland

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With so many generations working together today, communication has never been more confusing. Our communication vehicles include email, phone, social media, text – not to mention real life, face-to-face conversations and handwritten letters.

Using the wrong communication method can hinder your ability to effectively share your message. It can cost you an interview, a promotion or an important project. Here are a few suggestions to help you put your best foot forward.

Use email when you’re communicating small, but important details, such as scheduling a meeting. It’s also great for communicating agendas and sharing documents. Keep your message as concise as possible, and read it at least once before hitting send. Only include people on your email who need to be there. Carbon copying a long list of co-workers will only set you up for problems, as it can be perceived very negatively.

The telephone is a great tool for building your professional relationships. It is especially helpful when communicating something that may be misunderstood in email, or information that is sensitive. Impersonal forms of communication are not appropriate when you’re sharing something that may be upsetting. Although these discussions can be tough, they’re the way to go.

When you call, be sensitive of time. Don’t call at the very beginning or very end of the day when your co-worker is just arriving or just leaving the office. Always call the person’s desk phone first, before trying their cellphone. If you receive voicemail, be clear and quick. Your voicemail should include your first and last name, and the purpose of your call in one to two sentences. Be sure to also include your phone number. Don’t assume the person you’re calling has your number on hand.

When it comes to work, social media is virtually never the place to communicate. The only time it makes sense to communicate using Facebook is after you’ve made a personal friend at work – and you’re talking about personal topics. Avoid using any social media to discuss work-related items.

Text messaging is one of the most controversial communication methods. Some people love texting and some never text at all. According to Pew Research, two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners – and of those, 97 percent text message. The thing to remember about text messaging is that it’s immediate and can be disruptive. It’s also more casual than almost any other form of communication. Text messaging is best kept for friends and family. If you do text co-workers, ensure they’re OK with your texting and only text during work hours. It can be very disruptive to receive a work-related text at 8 p.m. on a Friday night.

Whatever communication method you choose, pay close attention to the response you receive. If someone responds to you in a different channel than you sent your original message (for example, you sent a text and they responded in email), take note. It may be a sign that the recipient isn’t comfortable with that particular communication channel.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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