Professional Communication Begins with You
By Misty Brannan, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Kaplan University
The upcoming generations are more technically advanced than most professors were at younger ages. This technology is helpful and has brought education to new levels. Not only are students taking classes online at the university level, they are taking them in high school and utilizing computers in classrooms all the way down to kindergarten. With the wide range of communication tools, especially social media, younger generations are struggling more and more with writing skills.
As professors, we know we do not write like we speak, as Amy Sexton mentioned in her blog I Write Just Like I talk. Are we communicating this to our students clearly? We must lead by example and can do so in the everyday communication we utilize. All communications should be well written and clear. This includes discussion board posts, grade reviews, announcements, emails, and Remind101 or other cell reminders.
- Use abbreviated words. As difficult as it is, our writing skills will improve by simply avoiding all abbreviations even in a quick text message to students. Taking the opportunity to write well in any writing situation will allow each of us to practice.
- Use unneeded words such as “that” in sentences. By simply removing “that” from our writing, our papers immediately begin to look and read better. The college level writer should not have the word “that” twice in a sentence or four times in a paragraph. Concentrate on removing it from your writing and watch your skill improve.
- Write positively when sending emails or comments to your students. Put a smile on and write what you mean to say even if you are frustrated. I mean this literally. In college, I worked for a telemarketing type company acquiring funds from alumni. The key was to smile while you talked to the person over the phone because it made the conversation positive and successful. This holds true for writing as well.
- Realize communication can be misconstrued when writing. We’ve all had a student take an email the wrong way or read more into it than it really says. We can avoid this by being plain and simple. The student-teacher relationship is not personal, and communication shouldn’t get personal either. Plain and simple writing without negative emotion will avoid complications later.
Staying professional in our writing is imperative in communication. Take written communication seriously and make it an opportunity to write well. Do so with a smile, and then pass this technique on to your students!