Office Communications


You will meet many different personalities at your new workplace. Some will be friendly, some reserved, some will be extroverts, some introverts.

This creates an issue with communication.
With all these different personalities, you may write and say the same thing to all of them, and

surprise - each of them will receive and interpret what you write and say in a different way.
As a new employee you will have to learn, very quickly how to use the business language. New

starters must learn how to be tactful and polite in all circumstances.

This can be as universal has introducing yourself. Practice what you are going to say, by watching and listening to how other people in the organisation do it

This will seem very strange at first, but talking in the same style as the rest of the team is an important skill for a new starter to learn.

Company phone behaviour

As a new work starter you are now expected to behave professionally. So while it might be very funny to have a cheeky voicemail message on your mobile, this might not go down so well with your new employer.

So delete that hilarious phone-answering message!

Telephones can get you into a lot of trouble. Even if you are confident about answering the phone at home, and have had a mobile phone for a few years.

Unfortunately home use is not the same as business use. You will probably have picked up behaviours that may not go down so well at work, and may harm your reputation with people before you have even met them.

As a new starter you are now representing the company when you use the phone. So you need to learn phone protocols very quickly. Best advice - observe others and copy their behaviour.

How does the boss answer the phone, how about your co-workers? Who does it best?

It’s not unusual for people to have a “phone voice” for work, and an “at home” voice when out of work situations.

Your work phone calls should be work related and kept to the point and not longer than necessary. Remember, someone else may have a need to contact you quickly.

Answering the phone - voice

The way to answer the phone varies from company to company. Some are very formal, some are informal, but usually all are businesslike.

When you answer the phone at work, it’s usually best to identify yourself. This can be:

• Name and your phone extension and greeting
• Name and area (e.g. Reception / site office/ workshop / accounts / etc.) • Company name, then your name, then area, then greeting
• Your name can be first name, or first and surname
• You may also add “How can I help you?” as a routine greeting
• You may say greeting first

TIP: There is any number of combinations, so observe what the answering behaviour is and you should practice, practice, practice, until it becomes second nature. (Even if your voice sounds funny at first!)

Answering a phone call – task

You should always answer a call.
However, this does not mean that you have to provide an answer or promise to do something

without having all the information at your fingertips.

For example, if you pick up the phone and the boss wants something that you are unsure about, it’s far better to say that you are not sure about that but you will get onto it straightaway and come back to the boss as soon as you know the answer. Never get cornered in a phone call into making promises without being sure that you can keep them.

Making promises you don’t keep while at work will severely harm your reputation.

A tricky situation can happen when someone is talking to you and your phone rings. Some people find it annoying to have a phone ringing while they are talking to someone else, so if you find yourself in this situation, here’s a tip:

• Ask the person who you are talking to if you can answer the phone. Then answer the phone, with your usual greeting and ask if you can call them back. It would be rude to break off
the talk with the person speaking to you to continue another phone call, unless it was an emergency.

• Similarly if you answer the phone and someone comes to you who clearly wants to talk, don’t keep them waiting while you are on the phone. Ask the person who is on the phone to hold for a few seconds, and ask the person who wants to talk to you if you can call them later.

• Never be pressurised into promising something on the phone that you may not be able to deliver. Better to get the caller off the phone by
promising to get back to them once you have had a chance to check whatever it is they are after.

Making a company phone call

A common mistake is to pick up the phone and make the call too soon because you know you need to talk to someone about a particular issue. This is fine for social calls. The other person knows you and has already made an assessment of your reputation. So they are probably happy to chat about other stuff before you get to the point.

At work it is different. Especially for a new starter.
At work people expect a phone call will either give or request information that concerns their work.

Co-workers are not expecting a new starter to ring up to chat about the weather.

Be aware that co-workers may be very busy at the other end, so keep company phone discussions short, sharp and to the point.

Short and sharp messages should not mean being rude.
• So don’t pick up the phone to call a co-worker as soon as an idea comes into your head.

• Take a few minutes to think about what it is you want the phone call to achieve. If it helps, write down what it is you want to pass on, or what you want to know.

The computer workstation - usage

Computers are fairly commonplace nowadays at work. You may have access to one for email or other work purposes. A few things that you need to be aware of:

• It’s not your personal computer. Don’t personalise it in any way. You may think it’s cool to have your girl/boy friend as screensaver, but not everyone will agree.
• Don’t upload anything to it that is not work related, and only upload things that you have been instructed to do.

• Do not play computer games, or listen to music on the workstation. You may think it makes you more efficient at work, but not everyone will agree.
• Even at lunchbreaks it’s still the employer’s computer. Resist the temptation to play games at all time!

The survey results – you are NOT alone.

As part of the Rotary club’s contribution to this guide, we asked our members to complete a survey of their experiences when starting work.

Have a look through their responses – you will find that many of the issues that you face in starting work are not new, and that there is much that you can relate to.