A Guide to Communicating in a Business Environment

What is the etiquette when it comes to communicating with your employer and colleagues?

There are a couple of things that we think everyone needs to know when it comes to communicating in a business environment. When you start your first graduate job, you will have a lot to learn about your new role, and professional etiquette can be one of the trickiest things to pick up. We have put together this guide to help you pick up on the rules as quickly as possible!

Connections and introductions

There is a certain way of introducing a third party via email, if someone has asked to be connected. We’ve outlined how to do it here.

We’ll take an example scenario so you can get to grips with the right way of connecting someone. In this instance, Lucy has asked Olivia (writing the email) to be connected to Abdul i.e. Abdul is in a position of authority. The subject takes the format of X in position of authority <> Y who asked to be introduced, as shown below:

The actual content must also follow a specific format. The introducer first addresses the person in a position of authority (X) and states that they are introducing Y to X, perhaps outlining the reason. Then, the introducer addresses Y and states that they are introducing X to Y, suggesting that they can communicate between themselves.

This is shown in the example below:

Then, the introducee (Y) replies to both the introducer and X. This is also done in a specific format. Y must first thank the introducer and state that they are being moved to Bcc- i.e. they are no longer part of the correspondence. Then Y must address X and is then free to begin the discussion.

This is also outlined in the example below:

Responding to multiple points

When writing or responding to multiple points in an email, there is a certain way of doing things. The most important thing to remember is to never write a single block of text. Make it easy for the person you’re addressing and break down your points into sections using headers, bullet points, numbers etc. It doesn’t matter too much how you break it down, just as long as you make sure you do!

For example:

This is the best way of ensuring that all the important information is clear, concise and easy for the reader to understand and address. When replying to an email in which you need to address multiple points, it’s common practice to include your comments in a different colour to the original email.

So a response should be as follows:

As you can see, the replies are clear and easy to read. Most importantly, there is a response to each point. This interaction can then continue for however long it may need to, alternating between black and red.

Requesting a meeting

Requesting to speak to someone in a professional way can be nerve-wracking when they are your senior and it is your first graduate job! The rules here are pretty simple, but will help the interaction run smoothly.

The key things to remember are:

  • Request the meeting or call politely by email.
  • If you are the requester, it is your responsibility to suggests some dates and times, not theirs! Make sure you give them a few options so that they can fit you into their schedule.
  • Be quick to respond to any follow-up emails confirming when the time is or suggesting alternative times.
  • Make sure the details are clear in advance. Who is calling who? What is your phone number? Where will the meeting be held?
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