Effective communication is essential to building strong business relationships with clients and colleagues.
Unfortunately, in today’s world of instant communication, it’s all too easy to hit Send on an email without thinking about the quality and message of the content—or worse yet, to let your idea of “personal” be defined by a 140-character tweet about last night’s disastrous dinner or date. (Sorry, but your clients just don’t care and shouldn’t be made privy.)
Strike the balance between personal and professional by following these best practices.
- Don’t be a “reply all” offender. Before you hit “reply all” on an email, consider who really needs to be involved in the conversation. Replying to the one or few who need the message instantly makes your email more personal. Co-workers will appreciate that you don’t flood their in-boxes with irrelevant information, or worse, meaningless babble. This also means that when colleagues or clients do receive the occasional email from you, this message will stand out and they’ll pay attention.
- Write it out. When a personal touch matters, send a handwritten note. Remember clients’ birthdays, congratulate colleagues, and say thank you. Order a set of personalized cards and keep them in your desk drawer. When you get the urge to send a quick, not time-sensitive email, grab a card and write it out. Doing so will take only a few more seconds, and it is more personal (and memorable) than a generic email.
- Listen up. We speak at an average rate of 150 words per minute and think at around 500 words per minute. This means that it’s easy for our minds to jump to conclusions and formulate a response before our speaker is finished. Resist this urge by making eye contact, asking questions and restating what was just said. Not only are you more likely to comprehend the message, but when your speaker feels valued, your own message gains credibility.