I participated in the Secrets of Great Communicators – Session 2: Mind Your Mobile Manners! How To Increase Your Electronic Communication Competence webinar, hosted by the Canadian Management Centre. I chose this professional development webinar because a significant amount of my time in my paid work is spent communicating via email and text messages, internally and with external audiences. I thought it would be prudent to assess my current practices and brush up on my skills. I was unable to attend an in-person networking event.
Because I was unable to attend an in-person networking event, I looked online for webinars related to my career as director of communications for an Inuit organization in Nunavut. I had difficulty locating anything of interest, so I posed the questions to my Facebook network. I used an informal tone because I used my personal Facebook account. Three suggestions provided valuable leads. I chose the Canadian Management Centre. Several of the free webinars were of interest, but in the end, I chose the electronic communications topic because of the amount of time I spend sending and reading email and text messages.
Because I attended the webinar at home alone, my interaction was confined to the presenter, Lew Bayer. I learned a great deal from Bayer and will correct some of my email and text message practices that may have been perceived as lazy or unprofessional.
Because I participated in a recording of the webinar and not the original event, I was unable to contribute to the event. However, I sent the link to the video to the chief operating officer of the organization I work for and requested that she distribute it to all staff to improve the email and text message practices across the organization.
I believe the tone I previously used to communicate in some email may have been perceived as terse or lazy. My intent was to be brief, but I believe this might have been misinterpreted. I also learned that email should begin with important words about the task or direction required and that social niceties should be confined to the end of the email. Bayer said that because of short attention spans, the first 7-10 words at the beginning and end of an email are most remembered by readers. She said to refrain from beginning an email using the pronoun I because it conveys the idea that the email is about you personally. Bayer said emoticons are not generally accepted for use in business email because the can be misinterpreted. Bayer also said not to use business salutations like miss or mister because gender references are antiquated and no longer acceptable.
I will incorporate Bayer’s ideas into my business email practices immediately. One of her statements stood out: “Friendly is good, but familiar is not…Talking about personal health, personal money issues, marital status and even complimenting someone on their attire is considered to be too familiar these days. In a business context, we want to comment always on competency and productivity related issues and leave the personal commentary for a break or after hours situations.”