Think of the “Other Guy” When Handling Communications

By Terry Bolda

Do not underestimate the importance of professional communication and etiquette both within and outside your organization. By paying attention to how we’re communicating to our audience(s) and showing concern for the feelings of others, we can have better relationships with staff and customers. Does this help the bottom line? You bet!


It really all begins with focusing on and thinking of others more than ourselves. Everyone is busy and we all have deadlines, but there is no excuse for not returning phone calls in a timely manner and not answering your emails.

Here are some of the obstacles to excellent email communication:

  • When you get an email and you don’t have the information right away, tell the sender you’re working on it and when you expect to have an answer. If there is a problem along the way, email back to explain the situation. Emails can be missed, accidently deleted or lost.  Assume nothing.
  • Make sure your default setting is set to keep the original message text in your reply. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a brief answer to one of a multitude of emails you sent a couple days ago and not knowing what the context is. Help the reader out and use this feature.
  • Are you upset with someone?  Perhaps it’s that new guy in corporate who’s just finding his way and was misunderstood. Resist the temptation to fire off a hasty and not well thought out email. Pick up the phone or walk across the hall to talk. Face-to-face communication has a tone, has emotion, and is normally best in these situations.

Let’s not forget in this discussion that our co-workers, partners, vendors, and consultants are customers too. When communicating, remember to give them the same attention and concern that is given to the company’s best customers.

As we’re building relationships with others, think about whether the person is more comfortable communicating on the phone or by email. Not everyone, young or old, has totally committed to electronic communication.  By the way, e-mail is not the best method of communication for all circumstances.

Someone I know says he gets more than 100 emails in a day. How will my email get noticed? There are many professionals I know in all occupations who would rather “talk” on the phone than via an email. And if the item is important and needs a quick answer, pick up the phone.

What is an acceptable time frame for returning a call? That may depend on who the caller is, but if you don’t let people know in your voice message that you’re on vacation or out of the office until Thursday, try to respond within 48 hours.

Let’s not overlook the need for written communication. Do you have a customer or other VIP that should receive a personal touch? A personalized letter, even hand-written, is in order. A written letter delivered to someone carries greater value and will be appreciated more than an email.

Oak Hill Business Partners’ Growth Management Services will work with your management team to devise and execute an overall strategy for growing your organization.  Whether it’s a refined marketing strategy or improved communications with your target audience, we have the expertise to support you so you can focus more effort on your core expertise.   For more information, Contact Us today.

Terry Bolda is a Partner with Oak Hill Business Partners specializing in writing, editing, marketing communications, and public relations.  He has more than 20 years of experience working with businesses and nonprofit organizations. His background includes being editor of a Wisconsin weekly newspaper, a public relations account executive, communications director for a large NPO, and director of development for a Milwaukee church and school.

Posted by Erik Owen