Business appropriate communication

Every organisation has its own culture and understanding this will help you to determine what is appropriate when you are communicating. The atmosphere in an organisation often sets the tone for the level of formality within the workplace. Identifying this will help improve your quality of emails, meetings and discussions with colleagues.

Business appropriate communication is not just about fancy vocabulary and using buzzwords. It’s also about finding the appropriate way to talk to every single person on your team.

A recent Employ.ed Intern 

 “Business appropriate communication- A professional behaviours discussion” 

Business appropriate communication basics 

The key to understanding business appropriate communication is recognising that there are no set rules for what is and isn’t appropriate. This can vary between sectors and organisation. Part of settling into a new organisation is learning what is appropriate for where you are working.  

Keeping this in mind, there are some areas where we can suggest common good practice which will apply to most organisations.  

Meeting basics 

Whether it’s a face to face meeting or a video meeting it’s still important to turn up on time, contribute and listen to others. 

  • Be on time. (even if it means you are the first one there)  

  • Listen to others. This is essential to understanding the organisation and shows you value your colleagues.  

  • Read through the agenda beforehand. Preparing in advance means you will know what is coming up and will help you contribute. 

  • Don’t feel a pressure to speak. At first it really pays to listen in meetings to start to understand the issues being discussed. You could also email the Chair after if you felt you had a good point but didn’t make it during the meeting.  

  • Mute your notifications. If it’s a remote session then make sure your phone is on silent and if you are sharing your screen, close any extra tabs!  

  • Let others in your house know you’re in a meeting. This will prevent distractions, disturbances and help avoid any connection issues. 

Email basics  

Writing emails with good spelling, solid structure and relevant content gives confidence to the reader. Using a positive and polite tone will make sure your writing is not misinterpreted. Getting this wrong may agitate colleagues and clients.   

  • Always add a subject, try to be concise. This makes it clear what the email is about and makes managing inboxes easier.  

  • Convey 2-3 topics maximum. Utilise bullet points to deliver the key message. 

  • Observe how other colleagues write their emails. Consider their tone, sign off (Best, Cheers, Kind Regards) and greeting (Hi or Dear) and use in your emails. 

  • Always write a next steps or action point. The reader knows what you need from them, whether it be a file, a reply or a stamp of approval. 

  • Does email guidance exist already? Some organisations have guidance on emails that can be helpful to find out what the etiquette is.  

  • If it is a difficult conversation it is usually best to schedule a call or have a face to face meeting rather than email. 

Making new connections basics 

If a colleague provides you with a “cold” contact that you have never spoken to before, its essential you make a good impression. Take it slowly and try make the contact “warm” so you can get the information you need from them.  

  • Send a short email, introduce yourself, what you’re looking for and set out what you are asking them for. 

  • In that short email end with an action point. For example, suggest a face to face meeting or video call to get the information you need.  

  • Send a follow up email. Express your gratitude and outline any next steps. 

Additional resources  

Participating in meetings effectively  (University of Edinburgh login required - If you are experiencing difficulty with logging in please contact