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“Oh, sorry, I thought you said you were taking care of that?”

“I didn’t receive that email, sorry I didn’t know about the meeting!”

“But I thought we had agreed Wednesday?”

These are just some examples of infuriating declarations that we (as receptionists) hear regularly and have, (mea culpa), ourselves uttered on occasion. Whether it is technical issues, personality clashes, misunderstandings or, heaven forbid, one ‘overzealous’ PA; suddenly you have a breakdown in trust between the PAs or Catering and the Reception Team

Whilst the problems caused can, on the surface, be remedied easily (the meeting can be rearranged, the email can be sent, deadlines can, sometimes, be amended) the preeminent repercussion of lines of communication breaking down is that there is a commensurate breakdown of trust.

We asked some of our clients how they overcome these situations before they spread like a virus, before they begin to affect the team’s moral and service delivery standards begin to drop

One of the best ways to combat communication breakdowns is a preemptive strike. Many of our clients have open evenings, where they invite the PAs or Catering down to a short drinks evening with the receptionists, whenever there is a new starter. Simple, direct, social functions allow your teams to meet each other and, having met, even once, face to face with them, it is easier to maintain a positive working relationship with each other.

One other crucial and simple method to make firm the foundation of positive lines of communication (and the efficiency thereof) is through the simplification of the very method of communication. Our clients often complain of employees, colleagues and contractors who send emails before making actual verbal contact, and worse, those who send email after email without any physical or verbal follow up. Next time, before you send that crucial email, perhaps think of making contact with the recipient, in person if possible, or, at the very least, over the phone. Even if it is just to say “Hi, I’m sending you through an email right now, I would really appreciate your thoughts” actual contact with those involved humanises them, and you – it is harder to ignore something if there is an identity behind it so communication serves its very purpose! The golden rule then, remember that behind every screen is an individual person who wants to be spoken to as such.

As a busy receptionist agency, we are all to aware of the possibilities of communication breakdowns, and their dangers. To avoid these be sure to have regular meetings with your reception team to find out how they are being treated by the other departments.