A Guide to Communication Outside Your Organization

A Guide to Communication Outside Your Organization

Communication as a whole has many best practices and unspoken rules.  But communicating within versus outside your organization also has some important distinctions.  Practices that work well internally aren’t always acceptable externally, and vice versa.  We’re focusing specifically on communication with those outside your organization today, to bring you some tips and tricks for effective communication. 

Do begin with niceties and basic greetings 

When you’re chatting with your very familiar coworker, you can often just launch right into the meat of a message without much of an introduction.  However, that is not the case when you’re communicating with those outside your organization.  In these cases, always make sure to begin your messages with a proper greeting, and an introduction sentence or two.  Diving right in can feel abrupt and even rude at times if not properly prefaced with a greeting message. 

Do emphasize clarity over length

While you do want to ease into a conversation without seeming short and harsh, that doesn’t mean you want to fill all of your messages with fluff.  Value the time of those you are communicating with by keeping your messages as short as possible, while still conveying everything you need to get across.  Try not to be too wordy, and don’t add paragraphs worth of unnecessary details.  Just include the relevant information in your message, so the recipient doesn’t have extra content to wade through. 

Do always introduce a colleague you’re including in the communication

It is completely normal and acceptable to loop in a colleague on communications you are having with someone outside your organization.  There are often times some of the information being shared with you is relevant to others in your company as well.  Whenever you are adding a new player onto a communication chain, be sure to introduce them to the external partners you are talking to.  It can feel weird to those your messaging if you add a new person to the mix, and they have no idea who that person is.  Even if your colleague will not really be partaking in the communication, and will just be observing, at least alert everyone involved as to who the new entrant is. 

Do always include a footer or signature 

For multiple reasons, you should ensure that every message you’re sending to someone outside your organization includes a footer or signature.  You always want to include information about your position within the organization, as well as your contact information.  Signatures help make emails and other online messages look and feel more professional.  They also provide a quick and easily accessible source of information for those you are communicating with.  If someone ever needs to call, text, or reach you via a different channel, they can just consult with your email signature to find all the information they need to reach you.

Don’t use the wrong tone 

It is especially important in communications outside your organization to make sure you are maintaining a professional tone.  You likely communicate more casually with many of your colleagues, which is perfectly fine for internal conversations.  Once you’re taking the communication outside your organization, though, you need to be even more careful about the way you are presenting yourself.  You don’t have to be stiff and robotic, but do avoid being too casual or familiar, and always keep your tone professional.

Don’t overuse the CC 

For everyone’s benefit, be mindful and selective when it comes to who is being included in a given conversation.  You don’t want to be flooding people’s inboxes with messages that are completely irrelevant to them.  When you’re communicating outside your company, make sure you know exactly who needs the information you’re sharing, and only include those individuals in communications.  A bonus benefit for you when you limit recipients is that it also helps increase your rate of response.  If a recipient sees there are 10 other individuals included who could respond, they’re more likely to give in to the bystander effect, and just assume someone else will answer your question or respond.  By limiting the number of recipients, there is more pressure on each one to give you the response you need. 

Don’t place blame or be too harsh 

Everyone has dealt with the frustration of communicating with someone who is not pulling their weight: a partner who is unresponsive, a client who fails to provide you with necessary information, or a vendor who isn’t meeting deadlines.  Since these shortcomings can be very harmful to your business, it can be very frustrating to deal with.  However, it is still important to keep a level head while communicating.  The reality is, no matter whose fault an issue is, placing blame and calling people out almost never helps.  Adopting an overly harsh tone will likely just make those you are communicating with defensive and less responsive.  So as tempting as it may be when things go wrong, don’t be too harsh or too blunt.  Maintain a productive dialogue to fix the situation. 

We hope these do’s and don’ts are helpful for you the next time you’re communicating with individuals outside of your organization.  Essentially, as long as you remain professional and respectful, clearly convey your point, and don’t waste people’s time, your communications should go off without a hitch. 

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