Professional Communication

Professional Communication

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0237-3.ch008


In this chapter, the author covers a number of forms of professional communication. Although this coverage is not comprehensive, there is a discussion of a wide variety of communication mechanisms, and the techniques provided should be extensible to other forms of communication. The chapter starts by discussing four simple rules of communication. If one is able to apply these four basic rules, one will be able to become a much-more effective communicator. Following the four rules of communication, the chapter presents remarks about a wide number of types of communication mechanisms, including email, texting, and telephone calls. It also discusses communication in a group setting. This material is followed by thoughts on taking a message, memorandums, and status reports. The chapter concludes with future trends, conclusions, and references.
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Four Rules Of Communication

Many different communication rules have been proposed over the years, and they come in all forms and quantities (Sharma, 2011; Stennes, 2011). In this section we present four simple communications rules that we hope will help the reader to communicative more effectively.

The first rule of professional communication is that one should always be polite and professional in communications. Al Capone once said, “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone” (Capone, 1940s). Although this quote may be true in various circumstances, in information technology and other fields, we should focus on being polite and professional as the means to achieve our ends. By representing oneself in the proper manner, one can build a good reputation as a professional. In addition, in most circumstances one is much more likely to achieve a goal if one has not antagonized the person who may end up being able to help. As a corollary to this rule, if one does lose one’s temper, an apology may go a long way toward restoring peace.

A second rule of communication is that personnel should avoid assigning tasks to people who are not direct reports. The person being assigned such a task may not be required to complete it, and the person could very well resent such an assignment. And, a person in a non-supervisory role will not have the ability to ensure that the task gets completed. One should only make formal requests of direct reports, or one should first clear the assignment of a task with the person’s supervisor. When assigning tasks to supervisees, it is important that both parties have the same understanding of the task to be completed, the deliverable, the timeframe, and the consequences of missing a deadline.

A third rule of communication is to remember that not every communication which one sends will reach its target. A voicemail may be accidentally deleted and never heard, or an email may be categorized as spam so that the intended recipient never sees it. One should not assume that a recipient is deliberately ignoring a communication; instead, one should confirm that the intended communication was received. If the communication was not received, it will need to be retransmitted. If the communication was received, one should think about what the best approach is to getting the most out of the recipient. For example, one might ask “Could you please deliver that item to me by next Friday?” Or, “Is there something else that I can do to help facilitate your work on that task?” In any case one must always keep the end goal in mind, and one must think of the best way to work toward achieving that goal.

A fourth rule of communication is to be patient, but not too patient. A person with good patience will come across as being professional. Most people do not respond well to anger or loud outbursts. If someone is late or did not deliver an item promised, the first step is to determine why while remaining patient. However, there will come a time when patience will no longer serve one well. The expression the squeaky wheel gets the oil sometimes hold true. One will have to use good judgment in determining when communications should turn from being polite and patient to a little more forceful. Achieving the desired results in such a situation can be a delicate balancing act. With practice and careful thought, good results are likely to be achieved.

Figure 1 summarizes the four rules of communication. There are many other useful rules of communication as well. However, these four seem to stand out above the rest. As we discuss the various forms of communication throughout this chapter, the reader can think of situations from one’s own experience using a given communication mechanism that would have been served well by applying one of the communication rules.

Figure 1.

The four rules of communication for the science and technology domains

Let us now turn our discussion to the first form of communication that we will consider, namely email.

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