Business communication comes in many forms — from email or Slack, to professional meetings to water cooler banter. But what works in one venue would be wildly out of place in another. Knowing how to communicate correctly in each setting can spare you a world of frustration and keep you and your messages to your colleagues crystal clear.
Here’s what to keep in mind in each moment:
When you’re about to hit ‘Send’ on that long-winded email…
Chances are, your email subject line is also is just as wordy. But it trust us, it doesn’t have to be.
Instead, keep both your email message and the subject line quick and to the point— just don’t write one word, in all capital letters or litter it with exclamation points.
Be sure not to forget about that attachment, either.
Emily Moore writes on Glassdoor about why you should always make sure an attachment is actually included in an email before sending it off, and features commentary from Barbara Farfan of Anyhows.com. She thinks it’s best not to mention that you’ve attached something until the end of your message because you risk folks fast-forwarding through the rest of your message.
“The minute you reference an attachment, it’s likely that everything written in the email after that will not be read. Why? Because of Shiny Squirrel Syndrome. The reader will most likely immediately open, download, print, forward, and give their entire attention to the attachment, completely forgetting that there was anything in the email beyond that. Say everything you want to say first, and then at the end say simply, ‘Attached is the document/chart/photo/whatever [you’ve] been talking about,” Farfan tells the site.
When someone dominates the meeting you’re leading…
First, steer the ship back into the right waters, calling the meeting back to order or tabling the subject for future discussion.
You can “play traffic cop with a verbal cue,” saying things like:“I’d like to have everyone weigh in on this issue” or “let’s hear from several people on this issue.” Dianna Booher, MA, author and founder of Booher Research Institute, writes in HuffPost.
You could also say, “we’ve already heard from Hank about how he thinks the engineers will accept the change. Somebody from Legal—what do you think about the proposed change?” she added.
Later, you can pull the chatty meeting member aside and get to the heart of why they might feel the need to do this.
When you’re about to verbally explode at a colleague during a conversation…
SPOILER: Don’t do it— this is never a good idea.
Instead of dreaming up an expertly-worded retort as they ramble on, practice active listening by actually hearing them out (yes, even if you don’t want to) before you respond.
Take a deep breath and calmly, rationally point out how you’re feeling — ideally, in a conversation between the two of you without others present.
But if it’s too late — meaning, you’ve already verbally gone off the rails and yelled at them — consider taking responsibility for your poor reaction and letting the person know the ways you see that you made the situation worse, as The Muse reports.