Business Communication Basics

Business Communication Basics

2011-03-02-bcThough this blog is all about technology and business, I have not written anything about business yet, so here is my first blog post in the ‘business’ category.

What is business communication?

In simple words, the way of communicating in the business world is called business communication. Just follow some simple guidelines and you will enter the basic circle of business communication.

Elements of a good letter

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  • Identify and write to your audience.
  • Use language which other party can understand, for instance, if you are addressing your letter to the department of human resources, avoid using highly technical terms that only engineers would understand.
  • Be short but to the point.

2011-03-02-dontsDo not…

  • Do not use e-abbreviations like;
    • Plz, thx, b4, u r, etc.
  • Do not use smilies like;
    • : )
    • ; )
    • : -)
    • : (

Remember

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  • There is always a space after punctuation marks like;
    • There is always a space after a comma.
    • There is always a space after a full stop/period.
  • “Cannot” is one word and should not be written as “can not”.
  • If a word is abbreviated, there is always a full stop/period after it like;
    • Mr. Barry
    • Dr. Watson
    • University’s English dept. has an old building.
  • Stick with either U.S English or U.K English – whichever is followed in your country.

Be formal

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  • Use “thank you” instead of “thanks”.
  • The word “thank you” is already quite polite so better not use “thank you very much”. Just “thank you” is enough.
  • Use..
    • Let us instead of let’s.
    • There is instead of there’s.
    • Do not instead of don’t.
    • Cannot instead of can’t.

Proper business letter formats

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  • Business letters use four common letter formats.
  • Variations differ from country to country.
  • All proper business letter formats are acceptable but the block one is more common.

Block letter format

  • The common block letter format is formatted with all of your text flushed with the left margin. Paragraphs are double spaced and all line text single spaced. The margins are a standard word processor setting of one inch.

Semi-block letter format

  • For the semi-block, the only difference between the semi and alternative block is as opposed to have the body text justified left, the first line of each paragraph is indented (has a tab before it).

Other formats

  • Alternative Block Letter Format
  • Simplified Letter Format

Back to letter format

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  • Try using block letter format.
  • Date formats are different in different countries so use a date format which is not confusing.
  • The perfect date format is: January 26, 2011 (Full month name, space, date, comma, space and then year).
  • Remember, the date in this format is not like 1st or 26th. It is just the number.
  • There are no commas in address or salutation.
  • Salutation can have a colon like Dear Mr. Barry: – but not necessary.
  • Business letters should be typed and printed out on standard 8.5″ x 11″ white paper.

Sample letter in block format

March 2, 201XThe Managing Director
Amalgamated Chemical Industires
23022 Catalina Harbor Ct
Katy
Tx 77494USA

Dear Sir

Subject of the Letter

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc suscipit libero sit amet magna vulputate porttitor. Cras scelerisque facilisis mollis. Aliquam placerat elementum iaculis. Sed in euismod tellus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Integer a erat enim, vel semper massa. Nulla vel velit sit amet nulla pulvinar blandit ut ac tellus. Fusce felis erat, mollis vel suscipit et, adipiscing quis velit. Nam ornare tortor sit amet metus consectetur ac dignissim magna vestibulum. Ut turpis quam, gravida quis accumsan id, feugiat vel diam. Ut non nisl nisl, id semper leo. Sed risus ligula, adipiscing nec molestie eu, scelerisque sodales lacus. Praesent in tortor nec velit dapibus ullamcorper vel vel nisl. Duis sem risus, aliquet a rutrum vitae, commodo et turpis. Suspendisse potenti. Morbi sem nisi, auctor sit amet fermentum pellentesque, placerat vel elit.

Phasellus ut lectus neque, eu volutpat dolor. Nulla vel massa sed metus egestas varius. Fusce dapibus, arcu at vestibulum pellentesque, tortor massa scelerisque libero, ut eleifend justo lacus at mi. Curabitur tristique magna sit amet arcu vestibulum posuere. Proin nisi quam, sagittis vitae faucibus quis, porttitor non sem. Mauris risus turpis, pharetra a consequat quis, adipiscing et enim. Nullam eget turpis eget ipsum interdum ornare. Pellentesque felis dui, mollis venenatis mattis et, blandit ac urna. Integer auctor, enim nec fringilla volutpat, nulla sem lobortis leo, nec cursus velit erat ut libero. Praesent lacinia eleifend metus, at gravida ante sodales nec. Duis et massa nisi.

Sincerely

John Doe
CEO

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Email formats

The above block letter format is perfect for emails as well.

2011-03-02-timeEmails and timings

When sending emails, timings matter a lot.

  • Try to write an email or respond to an email when you feel the recipient will be on their desk.
  • Mobile phones are good to reply, but late night replies are not considered professional.
  • When replying from mobile phones, better not to reply in late hours because out of the office time emails get lesser attention and by the time these are read, later emails are stacked over them.
  • Most of us find convenient to write emails or reply to them in late office hours but by using the email scheduling feature in your Microsoft Outlook, you can schedule the email to be sent at a certain time to make sure it is received when the recipient is on their office table.
  • Weekend emails are also less effective so use the scheduling feature.

*British English used in this post.

How much does chat cost?

How much does chat cost?

chatChat has been there for years now. It evolved mainly from IRC like mIRC to today’s better chat options like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, etc.

Most of us chat for personal communication or for fun and now corporate chat clients are also making place in corporate environments but have we ever thought or calculated what does chatting actually cost to a company?

Let me give you taste of what you lose when you allow chat in a corporate environment.

Let us say, you have a company with ten people. You have allowed chat over your corporate network. Usual chat pattern of people is 10 seconds of chat and 10 seconds of work, that is, they chat for 10 seconds and then switch window to work and then switch back. This thing goes on through out the day.
10 seconds chat and 10 seconds work means that the person is just working half the time. So if a routine workday is 8 hours, the person is only working for 4 hours.

Let us go further and do some calculations.

If you pay an average $10 an hour for an 8 hour day, you are paying $80 a day.

Multiply this amount by 20 working days a month, you are paying $1,600 a month.

By allowing to chat in your company, you actually are paying $20 per hour and not $10 because keeping in mind the 10:10 chat pattern, the person is working half day.

In other words, you are paying $800 per month extra for just chatting.

So at $10 per hour, 8 hours a day, 20 days a month and 12 months a year, you are paying $19,200 per year.

Since the person works half day and chats the other half, you actually are paying $9,600 for not doing any company work.

This is not all. Remember, I just mentioned above that your company has 10 people so let us multiply it by 10. This makes $96,000 per year for wasting time.

What if the average salary is $20 and not $10. You are paying $192,000 extra.

Do this calculation with your own company size and average salary, you will understand what you are losing.