Appropriate tone and language in the workplace

Running a business is a delicate balance between setting goals, achieving set targets and handling employees in such a way that it remains productive and trouble free. Whereas it may be relatively easy to set and achieve business targets, it may be as easy to maintain a workforce in a productive mood and vibe.

When we discuss maintaining the productivity of a workforce, a lot of it depends on upon the communication between employer and employee. This is precisely where appropriate tone and language in a workplace comes into the equation. We all like to be treated with respect in social settings and it should be no different in work. 

When we think about appropriate tone and language in a workplace, classically it overlaps in three prominent dimensions; employee tone and language towards employers, employer tone and language towards employees and employee tone and language with potential clients. Here is how each one is important in its own right:

Employer to employee tone and language. It is important for every employer to understand that communication is the practice of exchanging information and ideas. In order to be an effective communicator in your workplace, it is essential to be able to deliver your intent in the most appropriate tone and choice of words. The tone has a lot to do with winning over hearts and mind. No wonder it is said “there are bad ways of saying a good thing’s and good ways of saying the bad things”.

Some employers carry a wrong perception that being “tough” means a frequent display of tongue lashings. Nothing can be further from the truth. A tough-talking employer can get the job done half as efficiently as a kind talking an employee. In any case, getting a job done by tough means should be only resorted to as the last measure.

Did you know that as an employer that if things are 80% good and 20% bad that we tend to focus on the 20%bad and forget about the 80% that’s good meaning we only talk about and complain about the 20%. 

Employee to employer tone and language. This is one of the more pondered upon dimensions of appropriate tone and language since it involves more serious repercussion when violated. Traditionally, an employee is expected to be polite and more considerate in communicating with an employer for a good number of reasons. An employer must always try to deliver his or viewpoint in the most appropriate tone and language. Avoid slangs and harsh sounding words in communicating to your employer.  Try to disengage as quickly and quietly as possible if you find yourself in a confrontational situation with your employer during a discussion. Never press upon an opinion or point if you find it irritating for your employer. Don’t be afraid to step away or ask for a break to calm down.

Employee to client tone and language. This is one dimension that affects businesses more than the previous dimensions when it comes to landing business in the first place. A present or potential client expects to be treated with a very courteous tone and language. Whether your business lands a client or not has a lot to do with how your staff treats a client with tone and use of language. Certain businesses have a special emphasis on the tone and use of language in generating the first impression (hospitality, airlines and call centers, etc.).

It is natural to carry a professional impression of a business when a client calls a business, and he or she is responded in a very professional manner by the call receptionist or operator. It is, for this reason, PA and operators are specially trained in call reception and client handling. Good customer contact skills are an important prerequisite to dealing with conflict situations – and more so to avoid conflict. 

When we work with our clients at Fresh HR Insights, we bring together Employee Handbooks that reflect how a workplace wants to be seen. We recently completed one for a new restaurant opening. Here is the “How we conduct ourselves” policy

How we are seen is how our business is portrayed – make it a good impression. We expect high standards of service and presentation from all Employees. The following requirements are designed for the security of the employment location and Employees in order to ensure all working conditions are safe and as harmonious as possible.

An ethical and professional Company depends on individuals taking responsibility for their own behavior and decisions, with manager and supervisors providing encouragement, feedback, and appropriate modeling.

The Company will not tolerate the following staff actions:

  • Asking a customer for a third party payment;
  • Personalising services so that they do not conform to established standards; and
  • Discussing or commenting about employment, staff or business operations that are negative (either with customers or co-Employees), these comments should be discussed with your manager.

It is the Company’s policy that all Employees are ambassadors of the Company at all times including traveling while working.

While representing the Company Employees should not compromise their professional integrity by being vulgar, obscene or abusive, being unnecessarily confrontational or causing any form of discomfort or offense to customers, fellow Employees, contractors or visitors.

Failure of Employees to comply may results in disciplinary action, up to and including summary dismissal.

Open Door Policy – Let’s talk. The best way of resolving issues is through open communication. As part of our commitment to teamwork, the Company has an open door policy for discussing problems when and if they arise. Start with your supervisor or manager. If you don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss your concerns with them the Company owners are here to help.

Every employee in our Company should be treated with courtesy and respect. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action – which may include dismissal. We are dedicated to supporting an amicable, enjoyable workplace. Anything less is a compromise of our values.

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