6 Tips for Finding the Balance Between Formal and Informal Business Communication

Over the last couple of decades, the way in which many businesses conduct their activities has become more relaxed and less formal. In a lot of organisations, working hours have become more flexible, dress is less corporate and policies less rigid to account for the fast development of technology and the opportunities this brings. With these changes, language has evolved too, also becoming more informal. This week, Mission Translate looks at how this communication works in the business environment.

Mission Translate provides 6 tips on how you can communicate in a less formal, but still professional manner. And asks if this have any impact on business activities?

In our industry as language service providers, most of our day revolves around communication; emails, mainly with clients and linguists, but also messages and phone calls to manage the projects that are going on. During our time operating, Mission Translate has noticed a lean towards less formal communication that offers more of a human connection. This change is not only with our linguists, but also with our clients too. It can be a tricky balance to achieve, being more relaxed and less corporate, but still remaining professional. Here are a few tips that we have learnt along the way:

  1. Mirroring

When engaging in client communication, take a lead from their style of communication and mirror it in your response. For example, if a client shares an insight into their day, respond with a similar insight yourself. A quick conversation acknowledging the weekend’s activities, the typical British weather or other suitable small talk personalises the engagement and gives the reader an insight into you as an individual, rather than a faceless organisation.

  1. Don’t blank others’ attempts to engage

Don’t ignore a sender’s attempt to connect on personal level. If a client or supplier enquires about your health, your weekend or anything similar that is outside of the direct business activity, ignoring it can be a slap in the face! Even if you are not good at small talk yourself or are busy and need to reply quick, make sure you return the same level of engagement, otherwise this business relationship could crumble! Remember people like to do business with people.

  1. Punctuation affects the tone

Punctuation can mean a lot. Using an exclamation mark lightens the tone of the conversation as it suggests that the comment is not too serious. However be careful too about their overuse!

  1. Emojis

Emojis: to use or not to use? Some people like to use smiley face emojis at the end of a comment and again this is something that can lighten the communication and (as per the name suggests!) adds emotion into the contact. Similar to the points above, Mission Translate would recommend mirroring the style of your clients’ communication. If they send a smiley face, it is almost rude to ignore this and not send one in return. Again, don’t overuse them – one per email is plenty. However, emojis are not for everyone, so if you are the one initiating their use, consider your audience carefully.

  1. Don’t let your good English go

Spelling and grammar are still important in professional communication. Errors still do not look good when sending out communication to your clients or your suppliers, however informal the contact is, so still check your content carefully before sending. Slang is also probably best avoided for most business communication.

  1. Consider the channel of communication

Each person has their preferred method of communication, whether it is messages, email or simply picking up the phone. Using this preferred method will evoke the best response from your recipient.

Engaging in more personalised communication builds relationships and it is certainly worthwhile spending an extra minute or two to do it and show a bit of your personality. A good working relationship generates more business. If a client needs to choose between two suppliers and they are on equal footing in every other way, it certainly more likely that the client will choose the supplier they enjoy working with.

However, contrarily, remember why businesses have historically engaged in a more formal professional manner. A study completed in 2018 found that a formal style of communication is more likely to be error-free and less ambiguous, thus allowing business operations to be more efficient. Although, it was also noticed that these forms of communication were the least preferred. Workers enjoyed spontaneous contact in favour of the formal procedures.

Clearly, there is a place for both types of communication and when dealing with business relationships, a happy balance needs to be achieved that fosters good working relationships, but at the same time does not hinder business activity.

In our day-to-day transactions, Mission Translate have found that each person has their own preferences in their style of communication and it is best to try and work out where these preferences lie and adapt accordingly.  What do you think? What is your preferred style of communication? We’d love to hear your opinion.

By Lorna Paice

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