Polished and Professional Communication Skills for Business Assistants

May 6, 2024


Practicing Communcation Skills

Business Administrative Assistants collaborate with every department in their corporate organization, including clients and outside stakeholders, which is why professional communication strategies are essential. Effective business communication in your workplace is the foundation for building strong relationships and trust across your company.   

Let’s cover proper email etiquette, tips for nuanced conversation, useful communication hacks, and networking techniques to empower you to professionally handle any workplace communication scenario.  

Craft Clear and Professional Emails

As a Business Assistant, emailing is likely one of your day-to-day tasks. Between collecting information from clients, organizing events, scheduling travel arrangements, and coordinating meetings, there are countless email occasions.

To facilitate clear communication with every recipient, here are a few tricks to take your professional email etiquette to the next level:

  • Use concise subject lines. Chances are that your recipient’s inbox is just as full as yours, so keep it short and to the point. If you’re emailing a client to request additional information or clarification, use subject lines like "Clarification Question on Your Bio" or "Follow-Up Question."

  • Properly format your message. Professional emails typically start with an initial greeting, move to the body of the email, and end with a sign-off. Keep to this format to avoid misunderstandings or confusion.

  • Employ proper greetings and sign-offs. In the professional service industry, it’s best to stick with tried and true salutations and closings. You can’t go wrong with “Hi [First Name]” or “Hi there” if you’re unsure of the person’s preferred first name. Keep closings simple with a “Thank you” or “Sincerely”.

  • Keep your tone friendly, approachable, and respectful. Avoid the use of slang words, abbreviations, and emoticons or emojis. Instead of making assumptions, politely ask clarification questions. For example, if a colleague sends you an email that seems to assign you a last-minute task you don’t have much time for, consider responding: “Do you need assistance with [task]? I have time between 10am and noon to help you with that tomorrow.”

Diplomatically Navigate Difficult Conversations 

When you work with a variety of people and personalities, inevitably you’ll end up in a tough conversation with a coworker, boss, or client. Usually, these situations stem from misunderstanding, so remember to take a deep breath and keep a curious mindset.

Here are some quick tips to help handle uncomfortable communication situations:

  • Practice active listening and stay empathetic. The hardest part of clear communication is listening. It’s easy to focus on your part of a situation and your desire to convey that, but it’s harder to put yourself in the other person’s position and actively listen to their perspective. For example, if you miss a deadline, you may feel the urge to over-explain and defend why you were late. However, it’s more productive to focus on listening to the feedback, asking questions to hear what they’re sharing, and then explaining where you think the misunderstanding happened.

  • Be assertive, not aggressive. If you’re in a position to give a colleague feedback on a poorly executed project, aim to express your thoughts assertively. You want to avoid confrontational conversation triggers, which usually follow “you” statements. Turn “You completely missed the objective of this presentation,” into “I think the objective of the presentation got a little lost.” Then give direct pointers on how the colleague can correct the situation.

  • Handle conflicts and disagreements with grace. Sometimes, you don’t see eye to eye with a colleague and it’s difficult to reach an agreement. In these situations, you have the opportunity to practice tactful disagreement. Remember, it’s more important to maintain a working relationship than be right. Diffuse these conversations with phrases like “I understand your perspective and respect it, but I feel differently” or “I don’t agree with that choice, but I understand why we need to move forward with it.” 

Effective Communication Tips Across Teams

Clear communication is imperative when you’re in communication with multiple teams and stakeholders. Not all conversations will take place over email, so consider these strategies for a variety of business communications:

  • Use chat tools. For initiatives that involve a few internal team members, use tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep everyone on the same page and streamline information sharing.

  • Set up regular check-ins. Blocking a window of time for certain departments, projects, or teams to hop on a Zoom, stop by your office, or send you a Slack message gives people the chance to ask questions, and saves you from constant interruptions.

  • Tailor communication for different stakeholders. Successful Business Assistants are agile in their communication. Notice if that CEO likes quick updates when you pop into her office in between meetings, if the technology team responds to requests better when you create a ticket in Asana, and if the digital marketing department is most attentive to Slack messages.

Learn 9 Strategies for Effective Verbal and Written Communication

Strategies to Network for Business Success

Business Assistants are in a unique position to regularly network because of being intricately involved in most events, outings, and cross-company communications. You may be the first person to make an impression on behalf of your company, so here are some easy strategies for successfully networking:

  • Prepare a short elevator speech. Impress potential clients by being ready to succinctly explain what your company does, how it can help the person you’re speaking with, and what your role at the company is.

  • Carry a few business cards. If you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to potential partners, it’s handy to have a card with your name and contact information with you.

  • Update your LinkedIn profile. Include a professional headshot, your current company, your current job title, and any relevant past experiences.

Want More Networking Advice? Check Out These 8 In-Person and Online Networking Tips

Reflect and Revise Communication Tactics

Take time to think back on recent business communication experiences and consider what you did well and what you could improve next time. No one gets it right all the time, so it’s important to reflect and then keep practicing!

Next, learn practical business writing tips.

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