Effective communication: think it through!

Words by Julie Gordon - cHRysos HR Words by Julie Gordon - cHRysos HR

We all have our preferred ways of communicating but in a small business this might be something that we don't necessarily think about in any detail. When should we make a phone call rather than send an email? When is it appropriate to send a text as opposed to picking up the phone?

Like most of us now, we use a lot of email communication at cHRysos HR, but on reflection, I do actually give more consideration than I perhaps realise to the question of 'to email, or not to email'.

Email can seem like the most effective way to deal with something, but it can be quite long-winded in the time taken to get a response. I think, for example, when it comes to dealing with a simple straight forward issue, making a quick call often means reaching that person and resolving the issue immediately.

I also feel strongly that there are times when it is important to personalise a communication, building relationships and trust with a client, or perhaps negotiating over some kind of activity. In this sort of situation, for me, speaking directly to the individual or even having a face to face meeting with them, helps far more in doing this than sending an email ever can.

Having said that, I did recently receive a lovely email from someone I have never met and who is looking to enrol some of her team onto one of our CIPD qualifications. She talked about the fact that I wouldn't hear from her for a while as she was going overseas to meet her newly-born grand-daughter. Her approach gave us a great connection and I immediately got a sense of what a warm and personable individual she is.

I do think that making a call is important if we are dealing with a sensitive situation, perhaps addressing something with a client that hasn't gone as well as expected, or to discuss a point of concern or bad news. At times like this I think voice tone, emphasis and listening are key to building relationships and addressing whatever the sensitively may be. If I send an email instead, I'm leaving it to the person receiving the message to interpret all of these interpersonal aspects and leaving the situation open to misinterpretation.

At the other end of the scale though, if I want to explain something in detail, or I'm passing on some information to a client or other contact, I prefer to do this by email as I can check the detail before I send it, make sure it is accurate and this way I am giving the receiver something they can refer back to. I rarely use texting in a business context, unless I know the individual well and just want to pass on a short piece of information like, "Train just arrived, be with you shortly,”

Occasionally I decide to use two forms of communication, to reinforce something or edge my bets at the quickest way of getting the message to the individual. Perhaps I phoned someone to arrange a meeting time and had to leave a voice mail; I might then email them as well just in case they don't listen to their voice messages but do check their email.

I think the biggest, loudest message to get across here, no matter which form of communication you choose, is – think it through before you say it or send it! Do you really want to say that in an email that may get forwarded to the one person who isn't meant to see it?

At cHRysos HR we can help you put a communication strategy and policy in place so that your employees have some guidelines and structure to follow when communicating with your clients, business contacts and even each other. For further information email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01302 802128.

www.chrysos.org.uk