As with every generation, we have adopted a certain way of communicating using terms and phrases familiar to us. Used in a professional setting, however, sometimes this can project and unprofessional persona particularly to older generations. The most frequently used terms and phrases include the overly (and usually incorrect) use of the words: ‘like’ and ’literally’.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of using these terms without even considering how others might perceive my choice of language. The following guide is taken from my own personal experience of phrases and actions you should definitely avoid and/ or reword.
Unnecessary adverbs such as: ‘like’, ‘very’, ‘extremely’, ‘literally’ or ‘awesome’, lend on emotion, which should be fact-based communication. I’ll admit this is one of the hardest habits to shake, but putting in the effort will be worth your while as it will help you sound more professional and confident.
Not so impressive job title
When starting out your job title may not be impressive. So, when speaking with clients try, “I work for (business name), and we are wanting to reach out …” Similarly, when introducing yourself in a networking environment, it’s important to remember to mention where and who you work for along with your name. This is an easy fix to boost your work credibility.
I’ll Run that by the Boss
When speaking to potential clients finishing your meeting with “I’ll have to ask my boss” doesn’t sound like you have the authority to make decisions. This makes clients wonder why they are talking to you instead of your boss. So instead you can rephrase with something along the lines of, “Thank you for your time, this all sounds great. Let me just run our discussion by some people in my team before we move ahead.” Or “That’s a great question, would you mind if I followed that up with an email after the meeting?”
Ummm, I do not know
No one ever has all of the answers. While Google can do so much you will need to ask your colleagues a question or two. Instead of bluntly answering “I don’t know” offer a solution or come back to them. Try, “I’m not sure, but let me do a bit of research/ talk to a colleague and I’ll get back to you.” Offering a solution is also a great tool when dealing with a problem. While your solution may not be the answer, it shows you are trying to work things out and not give up.
Whatever time suits you
I am guilty of writing “I’m available at whatever times suits you” at the end of internship email applications. Having learnt my lesson, it’s important to only put when you know you will be available. If however due to university or other commitments you don’t know your availability at that point in time its best to advise them of when you will know i.e. “my timetable etc. hasn’t come out yet, I will be able to let you know on X. Is that ok?”
Know what’s going on
Knowledge and being up to date on what is happening in Australia and the world is important. On Straddl there are great recommendations for media and communication sites and email subscriptions both students and aspiring professionals should sign up to. The industry is global and so should your perspective and outlook.
Swear words are unprofessional and should not be used under any circumstances. If you are a swearer imagine your Grandmother or a paternal figure can hear everything you say at work or rope in an accountability buddy you trust to keep you in line.
Lastly, taking time to consider how your speaking will help to ensure you are put putting your best foot forward.
By Grace Carroll