The 3Ps are easy to remember and implement. There is no need to write a long article about a simple formula, so I will get right to the point. The 3 P's are something you can keep in the back of your mind when you are communicating in person, over the phone or in writing to give that serious but approachable tone that you probably hope to get from others, but are surprised at how often you do not.
Professional – yes, the first one was hopefully a no-brainer. But what exactly does it mean to be professional? People often speak about professionalism in the workplace, but how do they, or you, define it? To me it means at all times and in all forms of communication medium to be diplomatic and fair, to not show stress or react too emotionally to situations that come up quickly, to listen carefully to others who even may be complaining or challenging you, and to keep in mind at all times that you are a reflection of your company or organization. You cannot afford to take things personally or act as a person first, company rep second. It must be the other way around.
Polite – This means at all times, especially in Canada, to use or even over-use polite words, phrases and intonation. Notice that it is not enough just to use the words and phrases. We must use a sincere tone, or else we lose credibility if the words do not match the tone of voice (or tone of email). Snapping (or writing) a “Well I’m sorry, but that’s our policy” to a customer or vendor is not perceived as polite. It is what I call a situation where even when you're right, you're wrong! Policies are great to have and I do encourage it as it promotes equality for all, but we must be careful to let people down gently when we cannot go against our policies. What would you think if someone did not seem to listen to your concern but rather simply re-stated company policy, hoping you would get frustrated enough to give up the argument? And if you did have to yield to company policy, what would you prefer to hear - a cold answer or at least one with some attempt at empathy and concern for client or vendor relations? Be polite and try to help people even if they are angry and blaming you, and even if your company policies do not allow you to give the person what they want. Care.
Positive – Use positive verbal and non-verbal communication in the workplace with your team, your clients and stakeholders. Use positive open body language. Talk about what you or 'we' (your company) CAN do in the situation, not CANNOT do. Focus on the solution, not the problem. Solve the problem immediately; do not hunt for a person to blame. If you must give negative feedback to staff, accentuate the positive first. Use phrases like ‘remember’, instead of ‘don’t forget’. Use ‘I’ statements not ‘you’ statements, to show your feelings, not a finger-wagging accusation. Being positive is the toughest of the 3 P's to actually implement, because it is made up of your attitude and a whole bunch of little things that no one will probably notice. But they will notice the big picture, that you are a positive person and a pleasure to do business with. They may not know exactly how they know that, but they can feel it. Every time you change a negative phrase into a positive one, or a stressful situation into a more bearable one, you are adding positive energy to yourself and your workspace, virtual and real, and all those around you. Isn't that worth a little extra thought and care?
Remember the 3Ps of successful communication the next time you are doing business, and I am sure you will inspire others to follow your lead to be professional, polite and positive.
All the best,