Communication, better still, effective communication is the key to success in any field, especially in today’s connected world. At a time when SMS lingo has overtaken office communication in many situations, oral interaction has also undergone a metamorphosis. Though it is no longer as starch-march as it was earlier, yet it is still considered important to observe certain etiquettes of social communication. An employee represents a company’s ethos. No wonder then that soft skills and communication skills form a sizeable part of the training calendar.
While each organisation has ground rules of Do’s and Don’ts of social communication etiquette, here are some that will help save you from a ‘foot in your mouth’ office situation.
Small Talk, big results
Globally communication etiquette demands engaging in small talk when meeting a client, business partner or a visitor to the company. This is so as to put the person at ease, break the ice exchange pleasantries and lay grounds for further talk. Avoid controversial topics such as religion or politics and stick to polite concerns such as travel, nature of work, weather etc. Introduce yourself first and avoid asking probing questions on his/her personal life. The idea is to be friendly not overtly friendly and impose oneself on another. Keep it warm and have genuine concern. Moreover, getting background knowledge on the client can also help make you questions and choose topics that are more likely to get animated responses.
Listen not hear
So a new employee has joined your team and you have to help her settle in. Communication with colleagues at par with each other (more so than in any other work relationship) depends on respect, honesty and clarity. Listen to each other, process more and deliver equally, engage in active listening, using positive non-verbal cues of communication such as eye contact and nodding one’s head. Keep the tone polite and unimposing. Sometimes showing interest, acknowledging visibly and asking open-ended questions can, keep the conversation positive and translates into successful negotiations, better teamwork and fruitful meetings.
Be it a working lunch meet or a black-tie, business do, you are sure to meet an assortment of delegates and employees- superiors, colleagues and subordinates. Introductions is one way of breaking the ice but knowing that introducing a junior to a senior employee first is doing it well. Equally important is to ensure an easy flow of conversation at such dos if one is hosting them. One of way of doing this is by ensuring that the guests are introduced on the basis of like-mindedness and if not that, to begin with from similar departments, at least. This will guarantee awkward silences. Another skill handy is cutting in on a conversation and exiting the one before. Making polite excuses is required in the latter and in the former seeking permission to join the conversation. Equally important is the right way of complimenting someone or something. Facetious or ill-humoured appreciation is more often than not is the one that is ill timed, wrongly worded and most importantly, not genuine!
It’s only words…
Choosing one’s vocabulary to suit the occasion, situation and listener is another way of matching intent with voice. Keeping the message crisp, avoiding jargon and heavy sounding words will ensure that the communication is effective and the message conveyed rightly. Avoiding direct translations form the mother tongue, a reasonable awareness of grammar and current usage helps in making the spoken word palatable. Globally, there is movement towards less formality but at the same time, not overt familiarity too- using current vocabulary, avoiding dense metaphors and similes, seeking information rather than delivering a monologue, will make for an effective communicator!