As instructors, we are here to help, and are happy to answer your questions and address your concerns. Many of my best students are the ones who email the most. They are quick to ask for clarification before an assignment is submitted, or for clarification on a graded assignment. Reaching out to instructors shows that you are taking responsibility for your learning. These kinds of professional communication skills and techniques can be acquired during a business communication class or any class. You just need practice.
While it can seem intimidating, think of your relationship with your instructor as practice for a relationship with a supervisor in your field. If you had a question about how to complete a project, would you email for clarification, or take a guess, submit the project and hope it is correct?
A professional tone is critical when contacting a supervisor. Maintaining a professional tone when emailing instructors will give you valuable practice. Here are some guidelines:
- Avoid focusing on emotions. While phrases such as “I am frustrated” may be appropriate, stating much beyond that will detract from the issue.
- Clearly state your question on concern. For example, saying “I am unclear about my grade on the week 3 activity” allows the instructor to address your concern more quickly.
- Avoid making assumptions and focus on your question or concern.
- Can the answer be found elsewhere? At Bryant & Stratton, you don’t need to contact your instructor to find out your grade. Similarly, there may be information in a work environment that could be found in a policy handbook. Being proactive and finding what you can on your own will better prepare you in your course as well as your career.
- When emailing, take advantage of the option to review your email. Ask yourself: Was I courteous and clear? Did I present myself in the most professional way possible? Would I be embarrassed if anyone other than the instructor saw this?
Each of these guidelines will help you in a professional environment. In a work environment, an email may be forwarded without your knowledge. If you are professional and courteous, you will have nothing to worry about!
Another great option is to hop on Skype. Many instructors, myself included, have office hours on Skype, or similar platforms. This is a great way to create a more personal connection. Also, it is great practice in getting used to technology you might need for a job interview.
At Bryant & Stratton College, we pride ourselves on preparing students for their work environment. Learning how to reach out to an instructor, even if it feels uncomfortable, provides you valuable experience in professional communication whether your focus is on professional communication techniques or not. A proactive, professional attitude will help you stand out against the rest!
For more information on business communication classes and other programs designed to improve professional communication skills, contact the Admissions office
at Bryant & Stratton college.