8 Rules for Proper Business Communication

In today’s business environment, we rely more and more on technology to communicate with one another. Our ability to communicate has been greatly enhanced, and our choices for communication media are ever expanding. From cellular telephones, to Email, fax machines to Palm Pilots, communication devices are linked to the way we do business now more than ever before. This new technology has had many positive benefits for the business world. Unfortunately, since the range of options has expanded at such a quick rate, many people seem to be unaware of how best to use the devices they now have. It is essential to develop an awareness of how technology should best be used to avoid negative outcomes for employees and the workplace in general.

In the last two decades, communications technology in the United States has developed at an extremely rapid rate. Twenty years ago, people did not even know what “Email” was. Now, phrases like “IM me” or “Google it” are commonplace, household terms that seem inseparable from our personal or business lives. But most people don’t know how to properly use these new advances. Take Email for example, misuse of this medium has led to the demise of executives such as Credit Suisse First Boston tech banker Frank Quattrone, Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Henry M. Blodgett, as well as senior executives from Enron.

The problem with some individuals is that they don’t realize that electronic communications can be and often are permanent. Even text messages can be stored and retrieved by the server processing them. But for most people, it’s not a matter of not realizing that sensitive, potentially career ruining information should not be sent willy-nilly, it’s just that they don’t know how to use electronic communication in a polite way. Just because we have these devices, does not grant us license to substitute rudeness for manners. There is a new code of electronic manners in using telephones, PDAs, laptop computers, faxes, and so on.

Here are 8 guidelines for communicating in an effective, respectful manner:

1. Don’t use your cell phone at inappropriate times, in inappropriate places, or in an inappropriate way. This invades others’ privacy and disrupts their ability to concentrate.

2. Don’t encroach on others’ personal space when using your laptop computer. There are appropriate times/places to connect and use your laptop and there are times when it is not appropriate.

3. Turn off your beeper and/or cell phone whenever you are in a situation where it could be distracting.

4. Don’t send lengthy faxes unless you first call the individual or business to ensure that it’s a good time

5. Only use the speaker phone when necessary, and always make sure the person you are talking to does not mind.

6. Never send e-mail that contains inappropriate or sensitive material (as some executives have learned the hard way).

7. Consider calling a person who you usually communicate with by e-mail from time to time to establish a more personal contact.

8. Avoid calling, paging, or faxing people at home or after hours, unless it is vital that you do so.

In today’s business world, we use technology to communicate with one another like never before. Communication has been greatly enhanced, and so have our options of how and when to communicate. This new technology has primarily been a good thing for the business world. However, many people seem unaware of how best to communicate in this modern age. Active awareness and following some type of guide to communication etiquette is essential for all people in today’s business world.