Could You Elaborate On The Day-To-Day Responsibilities This Job Entails Contextual Communication – Using Business Titles Or Not

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Contextual Communication – Using Business Titles Or Not

Contextual communication is putting everything into context for the sake of improving communication. It is up to the company staff members to know the focus and responsibility of their jobs and the jobs they may be representing at any given moment within the organization, and to make that clearly known to outsiders. Titles are there for a good reason, especially on business cards.

A title is not a tool for personal glorification as some self-made managers may think. It is an important piece of contextual communication, keeping in mind what ‘contextual’ means: It is the whole of “the parts of a sentence, paragraph, discourse, etc. immediately next to or surrounding a specified word or passage and determining its exact meaning (to quote a remark out of context). The whole situation, background, or environment relevant to a particular event, personality, creation, etc. Contextual: of, depending on, or belonging to the context. (New World Dictionary).

I have seen management people subjecting their employees to personal business cards without titles under the pretext of “being equal”. This often extends to the whole company where “nobody has a title”, on or off the card. What else is more contextual than a title attached to a person to explain what they are responsible for?

A title is a critical piece of business information that customers, suppliers, business prospects, associates and internal staff need to know. It identifies the responsibility of the holder — not the status of the holder. It is the heading of the job description. If anyone doesn’t want to put his/her tile on a business card, what is that person afraid of? Responsibility. Commitment.

When a business card is presented, the first thing the receiver does is glance at the title. One needs to know whom one is talking to because that will determine what will be said and how. If you present a “blank” business card to someone, he/she will immediately draw a mental question mark forcing him/her to ask “what’s your title?” or “what do you do here?”, which means, “what is your responsibility here?”, “what do you look after?”, “what kind of authority do you have in the subject matter I’m about to discuss?”

This is perfectly natural because different issues are discussed with different people of responsibilities or specialties. There are too many unprofessional thinkers who say “we don’t have titles here”. What that really says is, “we don’t want to take on responsibilities here, we just pass the buck”. And it is not right for management (usually owners of companies) to impose this on staff members. Business cards must have a title that direct the person receiving it to the right communication pathways. Keeping communication effective is hard enough as it is.

The person in the organization possesses information the visitor does not have or know, and holds the responsibility to take the initiative to set the communication in the right direction — thus saving everybody a lot of time and unnecessary aggravation which all turn into profits and customers.

Speaking of responsibility and initiative: One day I was at a Home Depot outside of this local area. My husband and I were looking at a large bin of doorknobs but couldn’t see the price. A staff member walked by and we asked how much they were. She scanned around and said, “I don’t know”. That was it.

What is the customer supposed to say, “Oh, OK, thank you!” Does the sales clerk continue her stride and leave the customer standing there? Or does she say in the same breath, “…but I’ll get someone who does know.” If she doesn’t, the obvious next question from the customer will be to ask if she could find someone else who can give them the information, so the clerk might as well include it in the answer and save the customer the frustration — and give a good image to her company.

There is a lot of competition out there who do “try harder”. With gross margins as thin as they are today, nobody can afford too many mistakes. And communication is one big vulnerable arena where most of the costly mistakes take place. So cleaning up our communication acts and putting our responsibilities in context is critical everywhere. Whatever will improve communication, let’s do it, not the other way around./dmh

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