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Consider Credible and Collaborative Communication Choices

In today’s world, communication modes run the gamut from “in person” to social media. In between, we can communicate via phone, email, texting, and snail mail. The question we want to answer is what method is most effective to achieve our objectives. Purposeful communication can ensure that all parties are on the same page, and communication touch points may thwart opportunities for unethical behavior.

“In person” interaction is a preferred method of communication overall. You can discern non-verbal signals from other people that complement or do not match what they are telling you verbally. We establish more meaningful connections “in person”, and we are able to better observe that what people are telling us is true. This “in person” communication is especially essential for growing a business, when meeting new clients and vendors.

Phone calls are excellent, too, because you can hear whether a person is sincere for the result that you are trying to achieve. When setting a date to meet, phone calls may be the most efficient method instead of back and forth emails or text messages. Phone calls are also smart for follow ups to interviews. Additionally, we may not know if an email or text has been received by the other party, and we can receive confirmation with a phone call. It is important to think about what information you want to convey in a voice mail before you call. For example, you should leave (1) your name, (2) phone number, and (3) a concise message, in that order. Have you ever listened to a lengthy voice mail and missed the quick phone number at the end? Did you really want to listen to the entire voice mail again?

Emails tend to be the most utilized method of communication in business. All email programs should have a confirmation message that asks senders if they really want to send emails that they have written. That is, “Warning! Warning! Are you sure that you want to send this? Think about the consequences.” When replying to an email with multiple recipients, consider who should be receiving your response. Do not just hit REPLY TO ALL.

Usually, most snail mail communications can be more efficiently sent via email. However, snail mail may be more appropriate to send an original signed document and to add a more personal touch to a thank-you note, birthday communication, or invitation.

Texting is popular for personal communications, and it also may be efficient in a business setting. For example, if you are meeting someone, you can confirm an appointment time or receive a quick clarification. You should not use texting, twitter or any other social media for play-by-play accounts of your life (i.e. what you are eating for lunch while you are actually eating it, how many traffic lights you sat through this morning, etc.). It is also not appropriate, especially in a business setting, to be on a mobile device during meetings or when gathered with other people in conversation. Additionally, refrain from using your mobile device while driving, walking, or where you could be disturbing others.

The point of choosing the right communication method is to be more effective and efficient with the time and resources belonging to you and others. It is important to find a safe place when using mobile devices. Self-defense classes teach us to be aware of our surroundings, and mobile devices impair our abilities to respond to any situation. This warning also applies to business meetings. You may miss an important and even fraudulent detail if you are paying attention elsewhere.

About the Authors:

George is an instructor for the AuditSense team, specializing in providing ethics and core-level staff training. Since 1976, George has worked in many areas of accounting, focusing on Auditing and Accounting Education. In 1976, he participated in the Internal Auditor Intern Program at the Clark Equipment Company. While working for the public accounting firm of Deloitte, Haskins, and Sells, George served as a Senior Assistant Auditor and a Comprehensive Business Services Consultant.
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Elizabeth Pittelkow is an Accounting Manager at ArrowStream, and she works in the areas of accounting, taxes, and financial reporting. Elizabeth previously worked in Finance at Motorola and in Assurance at PricewaterhouseCoopers. While at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she audited large public-accelerated GAAP filers, IFRS filers, private equity-owned companies, and non-profit businesses.
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