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MASTERING THE COMPLEXITIES OF WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION:
TTYL, Call U 2morrow, and TIA, all forms of 21st century com¬munication that aren’t appropri¬ate for the workplace! For those that might be reading this and can’t deci¬pher the IM and texting lingo here you go: TTYL — talk to you later; Call U 2morrow — call you tomor¬row; and TIA — thanks in advance. If you ask any professional they will likely tell you that effective commu¬nication skills are one of the best assets you have to be successful in your career. Right or wrong, today’s technology and avenues for commu¬nication are playing a large role in how communication happens in the workplace. We not only have phone, fax and e¬mail. Organizations are using text messaging, IM, Skype and social media networks as ways to communicate both internally and externally.
With some of the communication shortcuts discovered and used by those who converse via text or IM, there has been a shift in formality and style of communication in many organizations. However, many com¬panies still take the stand that tradi¬tional and formal communication is needed both internally and exter¬nally. Whether you are in an internship or full¬time job, your communications skills and style can be a part of what sets the first impression of you in the workplace.
Let’s take a step back and talk about the first interaction you have with an organization representative and what you can do to make an impact on that person.
Good communication includes the nonverbal cues as well. Having a professional appearance and confi¬dent attitude is the first step. Shaking hands with the individual (a good one!) and looking them in the eyes to clearly introduce yourself is next. From there let the conversation flow naturally — likely the recruiter/interviewer will ask you several questions. Be sure to answer them in a clear and concise manner yet provide meaningful con¬tent that gets to their point. If you begin to talk too long or get off sub¬ject, it is okay to say, “I’m sorry, I got a bit off track there, did I get your question answered?” Then stop and let them pick up the conversation or question asking.
If the recruiter does not offer up much for conversation, provide a quick review of yourself and accom¬plishments and why you’d enjoy working with the organization or even better yet, ask the recruiter some questions about the company and their role, such as, “What is it that you like most about (insert com¬pany name)?,” or “How long have you been with the organization and what was it that made you decide you’d like to work for them?”
Another aspect that can be impressive not only in this first meet¬ing but throughout the recruitment process is a knowledge of the com¬pany, what they do, and anything interesting that might be happening with their organization. You can locate this type of information on the company web page, local news media, and even by simply ‘Googling’ the organization’s name.
Be sure to wrap up your conver¬sation with an understanding of next steps and appropriate action. Will you be calling them or will they be calling you? Have you left a clear impression that you’d like to inter¬view and possibly work for them? Those are two key things to cover in your close.
DURING THE OFFER
Hopefully all has gone well through the interview, which is a whole other topic on communication, and you are at the point of a job offer. Sometimes communicating through job offers can be a little tricky, especially if you are weighing multiple opportunities, need to negotiate terms, or aren’t quite sure if the job is the right fit for you. If you are happy with the offer and the compensation package and you are ready to accept the position, be sure that you communicate your excitement and enthusiasm about accepting the offer. This will set a good tone as you approach your starting date and your first couple of weeks on the job.
Ask your main contact, upon acceptance, what the next steps are. How often will they be communicat¬ing with you from now until your first day? Who do you call if you have questions between now and then? And, is there anything that you can do to better prepare for your first day/week?
If there are multiple offers being considered or you are exploring additional career opportunities that you may or may not have even inter¬viewed for yet, that can get more difficult. If you have multiple offers, be sure you clearly understand when each company would like to have your response.
From there you need to weigh out the different opportunities and narrow down your decision. If you develop additional questions while doing this, it is okay to contact the person you’ve been communicating with from the organization and let them know that you have multiple offers and are continuing to find out more about each opportunity to help you make a better decision and then ask your few questions.
In the situation that you are anticipating an interview or job offer from another organization that you might be a little more excited about, but you are nervous to pass up the offer you have, there are a few things that you can do.
It is completely appropriate to contact the company that you are more interested in, especially if you’ve already interviewed, to see how they are coming along with their decision process. Let your con¬tact at that company know you have another offer that has a tight timeline for response, but that you are highly interested in what they have to offer and potentially working for them.
Sometimes this can speed along a company’s decision making process, but not always. You can also commu¬nicate with the company that has the offer on the table and tell them that while you are interested in this posi¬tion, you also have another opportu¬nity that you are considering but they have yet to make an offer and then see if they’d be willing to extend their timeline for responding to let you con¬sider all of your options.
If they do extend the timeline and you still take their offer, they’ll feel a sense of pride in providing you with a better option. Now, some companies will tell you no! Just like you have options, they do too! There are a number of very talented job seekers available. You may have to take a gamble — it is OK to pass on an offer if it isn’t right for you.
IN THE WORKPLACE
Again, we know that there are all sorts of forms of communication tools available in the workplace and many young people use them from a personal standpoint as well. The advice here is simple — drop the new and revert to the old. It is better to err on the side of caution and to ensure that you make the best first impression as possible, communicate both in written and verbal forms, as you were educated.
This trend of using text and IM language in the workplace has been noticed more so in written communi¬cation, such as e¬mail. Don’t write like you talk or how you would text, spell out words and use correct punctuation. And defi¬nitely, use spell check — it is there and there is no reason not to!
Now, after you have been with an organization for awhile you will become aware of the communication norms. Maybe IMing is an effective method for a company that has mul¬tiple locations or the casual connec¬tion between co¬workers allows you to be more liberal with your e¬mail style. This might be acceptable inter¬nally, but it is best practice to keep your professional style with external customers at all times.
Next week we’ll take a look at some difficult situations that people face in the workplace and how to most effectively communicate through those situations.