What is professional communication? How should you email your sergeant or sheriff? When you see a judge in the hallway of the courthouse, what is an appropriate greeting to offer him or her?
Professional communication is most definitely important. Effective, professional communication not only ensures that information is passed on it also opens up the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships, and in the professional world, those relationships are essential for problem solving and moving forward. As Sherry McKenzie, coordinator of the Training and Development Services Program, asserts, there are several steps we can take to make sure that our communications remain professional:
- The first step to take is to "remain objective," which is to make sure we do not speak or write while reflecting on any emotions or personal prejudices. We want to be sure that what we say or write is fair, meaning unbiased and impartial.
- Another central step in communicating professionally is listening. We'll communicate nothing if we simply say what we think needs to be said. In order to communicate effectively, we must actually listen to the other person's claims and opinions because those claims and opinions actually can and should influence our own thoughts and opinions. Plus, listening to give way to the possibility of being influenced by others helps eliminate the possibility that we will continue to think and communicate based on our own prejudices--it helps us to develop an objective perspective.
- Asking questions is both a central aspect of both listening and communicating professionally. Asking questions gives us the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and more importantly gives us the opportunity to continue to listen to the other person.
- When communicating both effectively and professionally, it's also important to center your communication around "common ground," meaning what both parties already understand to be true. Once common ground is established, it becomes much easier to add in new information to generate newly needed thoughts and opinions.
There are also several things to consider when expressing professional communication through any written form:
- It's also very important to be grammatically correct, as well as to provide correct information. Both correct grammar and correct information will eliminate any confusions.
- Be as "concise" as possible, meaning, say what you need to say in as few words as needed. Rambling or beating around the bush will only create confusion and misunderstanding. Hence, being concise will also enable you to be as "clear" as possible.
- Finally, be as "kind" as possible, meaning, be as gentle and considerate of the other person you are communicating to and his/her thoughts and feelings as possible. Any hostility in a professional communication will make it difficult for the other party to listen and understand, which of course will only create more confusion and miscommunication.