10 Golden Rules for Office Communication

Avoid addressing your client, senior or employer with ‘Hey’.
It is considered inappropriate and disrespectful, suggests Apoorvaa Aagarwal, etiquette coach and founder of Let’s Be Eloquent.

Last week, a Reddit user shared a screenshot of his WhatsApp conversation with his boss.

The Reddit user, Shreyas, was pulled up for greeting his boss with a ‘Hey’ on WhatsApp messenger.

According to the post which went viral, when asked by his boss if he had submitted a test, Shreyas replied, ‘Hey, no. Not yet.’

His boss apparently took offence at the casual greeting responding: ‘Please don’t use the word ‘hey’. It’s offensive for me.’

‘If you can’t remember my name, simply use ‘Hi’,’ the boss said.

With a majority of professionals either working from home, from a remote location or in a hybrid work-set up there is a major scope of miscommunication while working and coordinating with colleagues over message or mail.

An important question professionals ask is: How to communicate with colleagues on e-mail, text and/or WhatsApp?

If you are new to the organisation and haven’t interacted enough with your colleagues, these tips will help you draft your message effectively:

1. Be professional

Your message/mail should be drafted as per professional standards.

If you have never met or interacted with the person before, stick to formal greetings and salutation.

In a formal e-mail communication, the right salutation (Hi, Hello, Dear) along with the person’s first name/surname (Hello Mr/Miss/Mrs Surname), an appropriate subject line (precise and less than 50 characters) and sign off message (Thanks and Regards, Best Regards, Thanks) is important.

This way, the recipient will know that your message is legit and not a scam.

While you may use the words ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ in informal communication with colleagues or co-workers, avoid addressing your client, senior or employer with ‘Hey’. It is considered inappropriate and disrespectful.

2. Opening and closing remark

Always begin your message with a proper greeting followed by an opening remark: For example: How are you doing?/Hope you are doing well/Hope your week is going well.

If you are communicating for the first time, please introduce yourself.

Remember to end with a proper closing remark, For example: Looking forward to meeting you, Hoping for a positive reply, etc.

3. Avoid late texts

Working from home does not give us the liberty to leave untimely texts, to respond as per our comfort and convenience.

If it’s a business communication, we must message or mail within suitable time limits.

Please avoid texting your colleagues after 7 pm and before 9 am.

In an event anything urgent has to be conveyed you must always apologise for texting late. For instance: Apologies for texting you so late, followed by your message.

4. Proofread your message

It is extremely important to proofread your message before sending it.

Spellings, grammar, format and consistency needs to be taken care of.

If your message is not proofread, it can lead to miscommunication and also put you in the wrong position.

It is equally important to double check the person’s e-mail and confirm if the drafted content is alright before you hit send.

5. Avoid messaging short forms

Even if you are having an informal conversation over text or WhatsApp, avoid saying K instead of Okay, U instead of You, Gud instead of good or even Hw r u? for How are you?

These annoying short forms should be strictly avoided in business communication. It is considered highly unprofessional.

6. Articulate your thoughts

Most of us communicate our point of view very effectively in person but over text, there is room for misunderstanding and confusion. Be very careful what you draft in your message.

Each of your points should be well articulated.

Read twice before sending your message or mail.

Don’t beat around the bush and be clear and direct.

People often tend to ignore very long messages in order to save their time.

So if it’s a long e-mail, you may choose to highlight the important parts of the message to save time.

It is always better to draft a long or informative message in pointers. It helps the recipient understand the message clearly.

7. Schedule a call

In case there is a lot to be discussed it is always better to schedule a call in order to avoid miscommunication.

Don’t engage in unnecessary long conversations if your message can be quickly and easily understood over a phone call.

Even while on an important call, you can record it if it’s mutually okay or note down the relevant details so that you do not forget the important points.

8. Automated response

There are times when we receive untimely work texts.

If you are not available to communicate or respond immediately it’s better to draft a message which can be automatically sent post your working hours. For example: Hello! Thank you for contacting (your name or your business name), I am unavailable at the moment. I will respond to you within (mention time frame).

An automated response will help the person know about your unavailability and hence he or she will try to get in touch only during the hours that you are available.

Simple things like these help you strengthen the bond professionally especially when you are on the go.

9. Don’t be rude

Please avoid being rude over text messages. It does not leave a good impression.

Even if you do not agree with something, you must be polite.

People will always appreciate professionals with a soft spoken and clear language as it cultivates a sense of mutual respect and understanding.

10. Deal with uncomfortable texts smartly

When you get to know your colleagues, there may be instances when a person crosses the line and may send unpleasant messages over WhatsApp or social media like life quotes, good morning greetings which can be highly annoying.

If you are new to the organisation, you may inform your senior and request him/her to make a rule stating that irrelevant messages should be avoided especially in work groups.

If it’s sent on your personal chat, you may communicate your inconvenience to the person directly but in a polite manner.

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