10 Do’s and Don’ts for Professional Communication

Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.
T - is it True? H - is it Helpful? I - is it Inspiring? N - is it Necessary? K - is it Kind?

Poor communication can cost you a fortune.

Whether you are talking in private, conducting a meeting, or giving a presentation, you must communicate in a clear and engaging way to have an impact on your listener.

Improving your professional communication with clients, suppliers, team members and the media can save you a lot of headaches, help you enjoy meeting people, improve your professional relationships and help you grow your business.

Here are 10 do’s and don’ts that can enhance your professional communication skills:

1. DO Follow Good Email Etiquette

Keep your emails short and to the point (everyone is busy). Be specific in subject lines (summarize the main point of your email). Be careful with “Reply All” (think who really needs to be included).

2. DO Ask Questions and Actively Listen

When you’re in a meeting or talking to your team, be present and listen. Eliminate distractions so you can concentrate and listen. When someone is speaking, don’t think about the points you want to make, or what you’re going to say in response. If you’re unsure of something or need more information, ask for clarification.

3. DO Be Respectful

Even if you disagree or are having a difficult discussion, remember: treat them the way you’d want to be treated. Don’t raise your voice, don’t be rude or dismissive, and don’t curse. Same goes for your body language: don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes.

4. DO Ask for Feedback

No one is perfect. Not even you. Make it part of your system, on a regular basis, to ask for feedback from clients, suppliers and team members. Do your best not to take it personally, and don’t become defensive. Take the feedback seriously and IF appropriate use it to improve.

5. DO Use Voice Messaging

Unlike email, voice messages capture your tone, pitch, demeanor and other communication cues that aren’t present in emails. Also use voice messaging as an alternative to a “congratulations” email.

6. DON’T Interrupt the Other Person

In meetings, or in one-on-one conversations, always wait for the other person to finish speaking before you begin. If you need to talk to someone, but you can see they are busy – don’t interrupt them. Wait until they are ready.

7. DON’T Assume They Care

Just because you’re enthusiastic about your topic, or think they should be obsessed with it too – don’t assume the other shares your interest.. It’s your responsibility to figure out how you can make them care about what you have to say.

8. DON’T Assume They Understood

Don’t assume they understand your main thoughts on a subject. Speaking “over someone’s head”, using jargon, and being abstract is not only rude, it’s counterproductive. It is your responsibility to spell out your thinking clearly, but without being condescending. 

9. DON’T Discuss Controversial Topics

No matter how passionate you are about politics, religion, and other controversial topics, discussing them doesn’t have a place in your professional communication. Even if others are engaged in a conversation like this, don’t engage – whether you agree with them or not. It’s best to change the subject or walk away.

10. Don’t Gossip

Gossiping makes you look untrustworthy and unprofessional. People would think you gossip about them too… If someone else starts gossiping to you, don’t engage with it and find a way to change the subject.

Now It’s YOUR Turn

For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… what do YOU do to improve your professional communication?

Let's Brainstorm


Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

Top Commenters – last 30 Days

Let's Brainstorm


Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

    1. Do: Ask and listenbefore you speak
    2. Don’t: Be too enthousiastic.
    If clients try to compliment me, oh you are very enthoustiastic, I know I was not listening enough.

    3. Don’t gossip with the clients about your competition. Even if they do
    4. Do: If clients have bad experience anywere else listen extra carefully. You might not want to work with them.
    5. Do: make sure that the agreements are kristal clear before you start.
    Don’t: Do not change the rules during one contract.

    SUPPLIERS or People you hire

    6. Do: like with clients, listen and think before you speak.
    7. Do: be kind but kristel clear about your and their. expectations
    8. Do: If things do not go the way you want, ask kindly for a 1-1. Adress the expectations you have and make you are on the same page.
    9. Do: Stay kind all the time in case of conflict or part as friends.
    You might end up being great partners.

    10. Teams/ intervision groups
    Do: be aware of the different communication styles, dynamics and learning strategies. You might have to adjust a little bit more than with your clients that chose YOU and suppliers YOU chose.

  2. Do not interrupt. Do not rush a meeting ignoring something they want to share. Something simple could be important to them. Keep an eye on how you use your hands and their body language. Finish the meeting with a clear plan of what is doing what.

  3. I use the spoken emails more often. It's faster and people understand it better and it seems like I put more effort into it... it's special.

    Be super clear. Like you talk to a 5-year-old.

    As an MD, I want to get a good night's sleep aka not thinking about that patient who I might have not instructed well since maybe the outcome can be this or that... So be super clear on your thoughts, and tell exactly what they suppose to do in case of this or that. I also then give things on paper. People only remember 20% of what you said, and half of it is wrong... so be SUPER CLEAR.

  4. Good list Nisandeh and I find that I follow the main part of them, especially the do's.

    When I did something wrong or made a mistake and someone points this out to me I also thank them to give me a chance to correct same.

    Sometimes I ask someone how so and so is doing, as I missed them for some time. Then I get the story what's behind the absence of someone. It can feel like gossiping. But usually I am the last one to hear any gossip. Thanks for that.

    Good to be reminded that communication is so important and how to keep it going.

  5. Put your communication away to send later. Re-read after some other activities (so that you were able to detach). Get all emoticons out and all adjectives

  6. Meant >>> is not Said
    Said >>> is not Heard
    Heard >>> is not Understood
    Understood >>> is not to Agreed
    Agreed >>> is not implemented

    1. @Han, Thanks for this wonderful distinctions, but could you elaborate more on how to achieve it, would love to get your tips from your experience on how to achieve it

      1. Check, Check and recheck, often I repeat the list in my head. Problem is we think in Pictures. So I translate my picture into words, transmit it to you in the hope, you give the same meaning to words as I and construct the same picture. Well, you see where it goes wrong. (if you get the picture 🙂 )

  7. Nice list! Especially the DON'TS are interesting. It's about things we tend to do, because we're passionate. Being passionate 'an sich' is a great thing (except when it comes to gossiping), but we shouldn't lose ourselves and as a result neglect our conversation partner.

    I also like #5 'Voice Messaging'. Never thought of that. I think you should only use it when you want to say something positive. A colleague of mine had a singer as a client. He always send her little songs. I wish I could sing 😄

    1. DO check the 'conversation balance' - If you give the other person room to tell his story AND if you listen well, he'll go home with the feeling he had a great conversation. There are so many people who talk all the time and never ask about you... We can do better, right?

    2. DO be respectful to ANYone - including the cleaning lady, the intern, the delivery guy, ... Good for them, good for you. And you set a great example.

    3. DO act sovereign - Don't take things personal. Don't be tempted to accusing and blaming. If it's not helpful, don't bring up the past (oude koeien uit de sloot).

    4. DO keep the lawsuit in mind - Whenever you're in a conflict, think: What would the judge think of my behaviour. It is a way to look at the situation from a distance. The 'judge' can be your compass to act right.

    5. DO make your emails as clear as you can - It's respectful to do your best for your recipient and it prevents misunderstandings. Make a logical structure. Use white space and bullet points.

    6. DO invite your conversation partner to ask questions - Especially in emails.

    6. Always put important agreements and appointments in writing.

    8. Don't be impulsive - When you write an email in the evening, send it in the morning.

    9. DO be personal - I'm not sure about this one, but in my experience it's better for the conversation to use first names

  8. Uh oh. This is not my strong point.

    I am good at all the donts and the do’s could also be improved.

    My tip would be to not avoid anything. If you’re not in the right mood to discuss something (because you’re too tired for instance), plan a follow up session. The last thing you want is to have something in between you and your customer or business partner.

  9. Here are a few more tips I came up with:

    1. NEVER USE CAPS - especially in emails as it sounds as if you're screaming, while all you wanted to do is stress something, better use bold

    2. Sum up what the person has said before giving your answer or input - that way they know you listened to them or correct you if you missed something, that way you never ass-u-me

    3. If you want to give your feedback or input - start by asking for permission in a respectful way. If they say NO - then respect it, even if what you have to say can "save their life"

    4. If you find yourself in a difficult conversation/argument/discussion ask YOURSELF "Do I want to be right, or happy?" If you realise that all you want is to prove you're right... my suggestion, end the conversation

    5. Always make sure that your communication will uplift the other person. Even when you have to give the most negative feedback there is a way to uplift the other person.

    6. I believe the "K" is the most important part of this - focus on being KIND to the other.

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