Professionalism is often overlooked, ignored, and misunderstood when students send and reply to emails, but professional communication can prevent problems, misunderstandings, and allow for communication to be effectively conveyed. Many issues and complications develop due to poor communication, especially between students and instructors, coworkers, and managers/supervisors.
Professional communication is rooted in every profession and is expected of employees no matter what your position is. Businesses and companies commonly train employees on how their organization does certain professional procedures, but they will have the expectation that new employees will be able to communicate professionally. It's important to start now, while in college, to practice and perfect your professional communication abilities.
Professional communication should be maintained within interviews, emails, office memos/notes, presentations, and any other communication between you and internal/external stakeholders of the company you work for. Since unprofessional communication reflects poorly on you, it is vital to maintain best practices in all your professional communication.
It is essential to understand the components of professional communication, especially in an email or written format. Depending on the reference source, these components may have different names, the concepts and ideas are the same.
See below for the components to a professional email.
1. Make sure the body of your message is clear and understood.
2. Be concise and to the point.
3. Utilize the same form of communication as the sender (if applicable).
4. Use appropriate punctuation and grammar. Make sure you perform a spell check prior to submitting.
5. Provide an expected timeline for follow-up: Standard expectation is at least 48 hours.
6. Use appropriate language: No profanity or text abbreviations.
7. Remember, anyone can read your communication once it has been sent.
8. Do not bold, underline or type in all caps.
Having the correct components to your professional communication email is essential, but setting the tone of the message is just as important, if not the most crucial aspect to your communication. Some references refer to tone as your "voice" within the message. Since the receiver of the message cannot see your facial expressions or hear your voice, the tone of your message must be crafted very carefully. The receiver of your message can perceive your message as if you are yelling, perceive anger or frustration, or even be offended by the tone of your message, even if that wasn't your intention. If the receiver of your message has this perception, it can lead to poor communication outcomes and unwanted complications.
Does your communication message come across as if you are or
What do you think will have better communication outcomes?
Your communication message starts with a professional greeting that starts to set the tone of your message. Would you start a message to a job supervisor/manager with "Hey you" or "What's up, Nancy?" Of course you wouldn't, nor would you not include a professional greeting. For example, Just typing the message "I need help. Please help me." will set a poor tone for professionalism and communication efforts.
A professional greeting is essential to start your message and some examples of a professional greeting are:
Using an unprofessional greeting can set the wrong tone, even upset or offend the receiver of your message. This is not a good way to start your message. Some examples of poor, inappropriate, and unprofessional greetings are:
When texting an instructor, it is a best practice to:
Below is an example of a professional text:
"Hello Dr. Popham, This is Shanika Anniger from your HSC1531 course. I have a question regarding the module 02 assignment. Do you have a moment to discuss this? Thank you- Shanika"
The opening remarks of your message are important because it provides a welcome and connection between you and the receiver of your message. It is a bridge between your professional greeting and the main body (content) of your message providing the sender an ability to acknowledge a concept or theme from a previous communication and offer a positive message to the receiver of the message.
Please refer back to the "Professional Communication Components" tab for an example of what an opening remark is, and see the examples below for professional opening remarks:
The body of your communication serves as the purpose or intent of your message. The body is the reason why you are reaching out and communicating with an individual. For example, some common reasons students email their instructor: Replying to an email your instructor sent, sending your instructor a question, describing a concern or issue you have, or seeking further clarification on something.
The purpose of the email should be concise but contain specific information. For example, just emailing your instructor, "I'm confused. I need help!" isn't helpful. This type of message is too generic, and most likely your instructor will ask you to elaborate on what precisely you are confused about, causing further delay to get clarification and help. You want to identify exactly what the purpose of the email is within 2-4 sentences.
The tone is also fundamental within the body of the message. The body of the message is commonly where your tone can often be misinterpreted and come across as accusatory, angry, mean, insulting, or even confusing. If this happens, it will lead to the receiver being possibly offended, insulted, and feeling attacked leading to poor communication outcomes.
It is understandable that you may become frustrated or upset with a particular situation or grade in a course and there are professional ways to address these concerns with your instructor. Some examples of a professional, concise and specific body of your message are:
After you complete the body of your message, you will want to add a closing remark before your signature. A closing remark will wrap up the email, provide an acknowledgement of gratitude toward the receiver of the message, and ideally would be one sentence.
Some examples of closing remarks are:
The final aspect of your communication is the professional signature. A very simple step, but often overlooked and misused.
Examples of a professional signature include:
Before you click that SEND button on your message, make sure you complete these three simple steps:
1. Make sure you have all the components to your professional message.
2. Re-read your message a few times to assess if you have the appropriate tone and if your intent/purpose is clear and concise.
3. Perform a spell check to make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes within your message.