building new castles every day

Rules to live and communicate by

In Readings on September 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

A new article by Becky Gaylord posted to today takes communication to its basics, offering 12 rules of communication that anyone can (and should) put to use. And I do agree that everyone should practice these, no matter their profession or role or relationship. (When I think about my family home, rules #8, #10, #11 and #12 are particularly valuable!)

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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