Communication 101 – Tips for Etiquette in the Workplace
Professional communication in the workplace is important to promote relationships with coworkers and clients alike. There are many forms of communication in the workplace, including face-to-face interactions, email, scheduled meetings, and chatting on different tools such as Microsoft Teams or Skype. Each of these communication forms are important and necessary for various situations. Elements of successful professional communication include keeping content concise, direct, and specific. Norms of professional communication vary by company and culture; however, below are a few standards for any professional to follow.
Meetings are imperative to touch base with team members and continue moving projects forward. At Stoneridge Software, we utilize the Traction entrepreneurial operating system, which includes weekly Level 10 meetings among various teams, Sales & Marketing or Accounting & Finance, for example. These meetings are used to discuss "Rocks", or projects that are to be accomplished within the next quarter, or other issues that have come up. Check out this LinkedIn article for more information on the different aspects of Traction.
Below are a few standards of meeting etiquette:
- Before scheduling a meeting, check the other individuals’ schedules to ensure they are free during that time.
- If you are scheduling an in-person meeting, check if your organization has conference rooms set up in your calendar system. Reserving a room during that time ensures you will have a place to meet and discuss matters in a space that fits your needs.
- Start and end meetings on time to respect fellow employees’ busy schedules.
- Be open to feedback and ideas from all participants and invite their input often.
- When leading a meeting, be sure to summarize the items discussed and clearly state action items to move forward.
- Assign action items and set a realistic deadline for completion to create accountability for team members.
- Consider using video when conducting meetings on Microsoft Teams or Skype to create a more humanize your conversation and create a more personal experience.
- It can be tempting to multi-task during a call or in-person meeting but be sure to give your focus and attention to the conversation and people you are meeting with out of respect and efficiency.
Email is often the most common form of communication in the workplace. Overall, it’s important to keep your email messages direct and concise in order to keep email communication efficient. If there are multiple, complicated questions you need answering, consider a face-to-face conversation or meeting to avoid a confusing email chain.
Below are a few more tips for email etiquette:
- Be mindful of others’ busy inboxes and put all necessary information in one email.
- Create an automated response for your email when taking time off from work.
- Only ‘Reply All’ when the information is pertinent to all individuals included in the email.
- Check out this blog post by HubSpot to learn more about ‘Reply’ vs. ‘Reply All’ as well as CC vs. BCC!
- Respond to emails in a timely manner. Typically, sending a response in 24-48 hours is timely enough unless the email is marked as ‘High Importance’.
- Create a clear subject for your emails so others are able to prioritize and sort them accordingly.
‘Chatting’ via Skype or Microsoft Teams or other collaboration tools is becoming more common in the workplace as a quick means to ask a question or check in with a fellow team member. This is a more casual form of communication with more jargon and lingo than email, but there are still some guidelines you can follow.
Below are a few suggestions on communicating via ‘Chat’:
- A ‘ping’ is an instant message (IM). A team member might say “I will ping you,” referencing that they will send you a message via the chat window in Microsoft Teams, Skype or your preferred tool.
- Before calling someone, it is good practice to send them a 'ping' to see if they’re available and have time to talk with you without being interrupted.
- If you are working on a project and want time to focus without interruptions, set your status as ‘Do Not Disturb’ so fellow team members will know to give you space to work.
- If someone’s status is ‘Busy’, feel free to send them a message but assume that you may not get an automatic reply.