Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Communication tips for today's technology

Business Columnist

Voice messages, electronic e-mails, video conferences, speakerphones and cellular/portable phones--all part of the modern business world.

Unfortunately, easier and faster does not always mean better or acceptable--even if everybody else does it. Common sense and courtesy are still important communication ingredients.

Answering Machines and Voice Mail:

Record the outgoing message in your own voice. Keep it short and

businesslike. The caller assumes you,re sorry you missed his or her call

without being told. Do not include comments of a religious nature--these

can possibly offend a caller/client. Stay away from clichÈs such as,

,,Have a nice day.” Make the day nice for your callers with a brief message

in a pleasant tone.

When you leave a message, don,t assume the caller will recognize

your voice. State your name and, if appropriate, your company name. Some

systems automatically record date/time information, but you may want to

state that also if you feel it is important. Keep your message

brief. Speak clearly and slowly when you give your phone number. Someone

who has to listen to your message six times in order to understand the

number, may not care whether he or she returns your call.


Love to use your speakerphone? Courtesy dictates that you ask the

caller for permission before you activate the speaker function. Also,

remember that everyone within hearing distance may hear the conversation

whether or not they should.

If you use a speakerphone to conduct a meeting, since the person

on the other end of the line cannot see who is in the room always introduce

everyone present. This is not only good manners, but can help avoid

embarrassing situations. The caller may wish to monitor his or her

comments according those present in the meeting.

Video Conference:

Listen carefully--a half-second delay in transmission can be

confusing. Behave as though everyone is in the same room--you are not

invisible and the person(s) at the other location(s) are not deaf. Keep

your movements to a minimum. If you have the opportunity to choose your

clothing ahead of time, stick with solid colors. Choose light blue for

shirts and blouses.

Cellular/Portable Phones:

For business use, keep these tips in mind. When you accept an

incoming call while with someone else, realize that the other person may

not appreciate the interruption of his or her time with you. A client

especially may feel a position of ,,second place” in this situation. Also,

when you conduct business within hearing distance of other people someone

may overhear information not meant for their ears. Last but not least, be

careful of what you say--someone with more curiosity than manners/ethics

may tap in and listen.


One of the problems with e-mail is that it can cause an important

message to seem informal and unimportant. E-mail is still business

correspondence--keep it businesslike! Basic points: include a subject

line; do not use uppercase for all letters (it,s harder to read and comes

across as yelling at the reader); check your grammar and spelling (this

reflects on you, even in e-mail); sign off with your name, company name (if

applicable) and a phone number.

If your e-mail is a reply, even though the subject line will

provide a general reference, include enough information to ensure the

recipient can quickly identify the reply. It is not always necessary to

include the entire original message in your answer.

Do not be upset if you do not receive an answer

immediately. People have other responsibilities besides reading

e-mail. If you require an immediate response, it may be best to simply

pick up the telephone and call the person.

Avoid Anger in Your Communication- A very big temptation when speaking to a

machine or dashing out a message on your computer keyboard because you are

not face to face with the other person. A knee-jerk message could cause a

great offense. You may wish you had not left the angry words on someone,s

voice mail or so quickly sent that sarcastic e-mail message. The answering

machine or computer will not respond to your angry message--but the

recipient probably will!

Free by e-mail/fax: If you would like a free article on how to manage your

time and your life, please fax us your name on your letterhead or E-mail us

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Gregory P. Smith shows businesses how to build productive and profitable

work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce. He

speaks at conferences and is the President of a management consulting firm

called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone

him at (770)860-9464 or send an email at More

information and articles are available at

Chart Your Course International is a training and management development

company preparing people today for tomorrow's new business horizons.

Gregory P. Smith is the President, Lead Navigator and the Captain of the

Ship. He is the author of The New Leader, and How to Attract, Keep and

MotivateYour Workforce.

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