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September 25, 2012

The Cyber Sec Guide to Communication Etiquette

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 5:45 pm

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” (Anthony Robbins)

Know which form of communication to use and when.

There are so many ways of communicating nowadays – phone, email, text, Skype, IM, Facebook, Twitter –  it is difficult to know which is the right one to use.

My feeling is that people generally opt for their ‘favourite’ method of communication without stopping to think whether it is the most appropriate for the purpose.

So here is my easy to follow Guide to Communication Etiquette – which form of communication to use and when:

The communication channel that you select should depend on your message. Before you choose which method to use, consider whether your message is:

  • Interactive or static  Should your communication be one-way or two-way? Interactive means a back-and-forth conversation; static means delivery of a message. What does your message require? Brainstorming and questioning require interactivity; updates can be static.
  • Personal or impersonal Personal means face-to-face, or on the phone. Impersonal communication is in writing. Does your communication require you to hear or see your customers or colleagues? Are you trying to build relationships? Will the tone of voice be important for this particular message? Are the ideas potentially confusing? Put some thought into whether your presence is a vital component of your message.

Once you have established this, you can choose your communication channel as follows:

Email (Impersonal Interactive)

Emails are the perfect means of communicating when a substantial amount of detail needs to be provided, for example, a work brief, a summary of a conversation or minutes of a meeting.  They ensure that all the information is laid out logically and avoid ambiguity or confusion, so acting as a useful reference point.

People often hide behind email – it is the ideal way to make an excuse without having to confront someone face to face.  Word of advice – DON’T!  The recipient will see right through this – do yourself a favour and pick up the phone in this instance!

Use emails in the following circumstances:

  • informal, quick update
  • distribution of lengthy or complex information
  • legal purposes/hard copy requirement
  • sending of detailed documents for review and response
  • discussion of a familiar topic with little need for explanation
  • quick sending of important update to many people; need for record-keeping

Text and Instant Messaging (IM) (Impersonal Interactive)

Texts are great to use when a quick question needs to be asked and a short answer elicited.  They are perfect for social and informal use.  Instant Messaging (eg BBM, iMessage) are like texts, but in real time, which is great to have an informal conversation with someone.

If a text is more than a couple of lines long, then you should consider putting the information onto an email instead.

Telephone and Skype (Personal Interactive)

When it is an urgent matter and a quick, instant answer is sought, the telephone is the best option.

The problem with the telephone is that, whereas the caller may have every intention of asking a specific question or seeking particular information, there is such a thing as politeness.  The conversation will start with pleasantries and can easily move away from the initial purpose of the conversation.

ALWAYS start a conversation by asking if it is a convenient time to talk, or if there is a more preferable time, especially if it is a social call without a specific purpose.  Maybe send an email or text stating the purpose of the call and to arrange a convenient time to talk.

If you are leaving a voicemail, state the purpose of the call rather than simply asking the person to call you back.  If they are aware of the reason for the call, they are more likely to return the call.  And make your message succinct!

Skype is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), basically communicating via the internet.  Use Skype in the same instances as you would the Telephone (see above).

One advantage with Skype is that it is free to make Skype to Skype calls.  If you don’t have a Skype account, you can sign up here and suggest your contacts do the same.  The disadvantage is that connection can sometimes be weak and calls often fail.

Video calling is possible, files can also be shared during a Skype conversation and Skype has an Instant Message facility which could be used to check someone’s availability for a call before making the call itself.

When to use the telephone:

  • brainstorming and negotiation
  • relationship building
  • discussion of documents sent, project updates or status
  • sending of urgent message/need for immediate response
  • need for corrective action or praise
  • ensurance of privary
  • hearing someone’s voice to ‘read between the lines’

Social Media (Impersonal Static)

The online networking site, Facebook, is a great way to communicate to your friends or clients in one fell swoop, via your Status Update.  A Status Update can be as long or as short as you want it to be, and can include hyperlinks, location, photos and you can even tag your Facebook friends.  Facebook also has an Instant Message facility where you can chat with one or more of your contacts in real time.

Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”.  Anyone who follows you on Twitter can read your tweets, so this is just another way of communicating to a wider audience.

Other communication methods:

Face to face meetings for when physical presence is required.  If the meeting does not require problem solving, brainstorming, or input from employees, use an alternative way to share or distribute information.

Write a letter when formality is required, or for legal purposes when a hard copy is required.

Communication Etiquette: the golden rules

  • Whatever form of communication is used, I firmly believe that a response should be delivered using the same method.  So if someone sends you an email, respond by email; if you receive a text, send a text back!  The sender has selected it for a reason!
  • Consider your target audience and the method of communication which will garner the best response from them.
  • Use the most appropriate form of communication for the intended purpose following the guidelines above.
  • To avoid wasting time on the wrong technology, put some thought into the best choice prior to communicating.
“Communication works for those who work at it.”
(John Powell)


May 3, 2010

Vote ‘cyber sec’

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 8:50 pm

As the country is in the grip of election fever, with the closest election this country has seen for many years, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘who will be our next Prime Minister’?  We wait with anticipation to see whether the country goes blue, red or maybe even yellow!  And certainly a hint of green!!

In the meantime, more and more business people are choosing to go PINK by voting ‘cyber sec’.  The manifesto of the cyber sec is clearly beneficial for anyone who runs or owns their own business – fast and efficient secretarial, admin and PA support at the end of the phone or email, without the overheads associated with employing a member of staff!

A number of entrepreneurs have experienced the phenomena of being “cyber sec’d!”  For all, it has been a pleasant experience, which has left them feeling fulfilled and relieved.  It happened when they were stuck on a particular task – for example, formatting and printing address labels or slotting an image into a document – and found themselves not making any progress thus wasting valuable time.

In desperation, they turned to the cyber sec to assist them with these small tasks and were able to revert to their day-to-day work knowing they had been “cyber sec’d”.

So vote ‘cyber sec’ and find out how liberating and satisfying it is to be ‘cyber sec’d’!

February 14, 2010

What gets our goat in the office!

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 9:23 am

I read an interesting article yesterday in The Times about the things that annoys workers in most.  They are grumpy colleagues, slow computers and office jargon.  According to the survey by Opinium Research, the most hated buzz phrases are “thinking outside the box” and “let’s touch base”!

I can sympathise with the respondents of this survey, as I remember back to my days of employment, before I was blissfully self-employed and home-working.  There were some days when I just wanted to go into the office and get on with my work, and not talk to anyone.  I guess I was one of the grumpy colleagues then…..but I can remember how the moods of your colleagues could influence your own mood.  They could seriously bring you down!

Office jargon is now a thing of the past for me.  I don’t use it – well, the cat isn’t the slightest bit interested in “blue sky thinking” and I certainly don’t request that she “walks the walk, talks the talk”.  Furthermore, part of my careful screening process for new clients includes their propensity to use ‘buzz words’.  The mere hint of “at the end of the day” or “ballpark” or “big picture” and I’m gone!

However, I still have the bane of a slow computer, from time to time, but if this is the only gripe I have from my day at the office, I can live with that!

January 27, 2010

Praise where praise is due…

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 6:04 pm

I just received this testimonial from a client and just had to share it with you. It makes it all worthwhile when you are appreciated. Kind words go a very long way:

“I had never worked with a Virtual PA before and now I wonder what took me so long! Ingrid has made a huge difference to my business since we started working together over two years ago. She is professional, organised, friendly, creative and highly efficient. She has taken on everything I’ve thrown at her including adminstering personality tests, doing an email mailshot at Christmas, sorting out my contacts database as well as giving reports and presentations extra polish and flair. As well as taking on the work I don’t enjoy, having Ingrid helps me to present my business more effectively to clients. She is worth every penny and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough”

Fiona Coffey, Director

January 26, 2010


Filed under: Blog — admin @ 4:45 pm


01 concentrate on your CORE BUSINESS during office hours; leave your admin until the end of the day, or even evenings and weekends

02 CONCERTINA FILES are invaluable. create a section for each month of the year and place filing in the relevant section. empty the file on a monthly basis rather than doing filing on a daily or even weekly basis. if you need to find something in the interim, you know where to find it. concertina files are also great for your receipts and invoices as well as bringing forward work.

03 COLOUR CODING. this works on files, folders, spreadsheets and even in Outlook calendar! give each product, category or client a different colour, so it is easily visible.

04 PRIORITISE on a daily basis. spend 10-15 minutes at the beginning of every day reviewing what needs to be done and set yourself a task list in order of priority. if additional work arises during the day, revisit your list and slot the new task into the list.

05 work towards a PAPERLESS OFFICE – it’s better for the environment and you’ll stop yourself drowning in a sea of paper. transfer information from business cards to MS Outlook or a database. scan documents into your PC and dispose of hard copies. print confirmations and receipts as PDFs rather than printing hard copies. a PDF writer can be downloaded via the internet.

06 PC HOUSEKEEPING. create a folder for each of your clients, products or categories and sub-folders within each for correspondence, reports, presentations etc. you will then know where to save documents and more importantly, where to find them! if using dates in document names, do it in reverse order eg 10.09.08 (8 September 2010) as it will be easier to find when the documents are filed in alphabetical order

07 make use of FAVOURITES in Internet Explorer. create category folders and add useful websites to the relevant folders as you find them. this will save you trawling file history or ‘googling’ madly to find that ‘great site’ again

08 set aside some time each day to respond to EMAILS rather than responding as and when they come in. this way, you can focus on the current task, rather than getting distracted by emails.

09 FLAG emails in your Inbox, especially when there is action to be taken. then you won’t forget to do what has been requested. you can also put a date reminder and deadline on the flag

10 if this seems too complicated, email THE CYBER SEC on to arrange a no-obligation meeting to explore how the cyber sec can help free you from your admin tasks and assist you with your projects for 2010.

January 22, 2010

Happy New Year? Not so sure yet…….

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 5:21 pm

I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to new year. So, it’s another year! Big deal! But this is a new decade, surely that has to make some difference? It remains to be seen, doesn’t it. The year hasn’t started brilliantly, what with the horrendous weather stopping us all in its stride. But that was nothing compared to what the poor people of Haiti have had to put up with! Devastating scenes, but I feel like I’ve done my bit by making a donation, and getting my sons to donate too! I am going to look into whether I can send any of my old unwanted clothes over there….

And of course, this week, we had Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year. It is bang in the middle of the coldest month, 2 weeks before people get paid, a large proportion of us are battling with the excesses of Christmas, weight and expenditure!

I am battling the bulge. I am a self-confessed foodie – and wine-ie too! So, I set aside December as a month for enjoying myself, but eating and drinking what and when I wanted. And I would suffer the consequences in January.

And boy, am I suffering the consequences? I put on over half a stone over the festive period. Admittedly, I was very sedentary, there was always a bottle of wine on the go and the mince pies HAD to be eaten! I decided not to drink wine until my sister’s 40th birthday party on 30 January. And to eat healthily. And to up my exercise regime. All of which I did and I lost 3lbs by 17 January.

Then it all went to pot, with Sunday lunch at the neighbours (3 bottles of wine between 4, plus G&T and dessert wine!) followed swiftly the next day with dinner for my sister’s 40th at The Glasshouse at The Grove If you haven’t been, well worth the visit. I enjoyed myself but didn’t overdo it and steered clear of carbs as after 6pm (as per The Food Doctor’s recommendations). Of course, the 2 bottles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo probably didn’t help.

So, Tuesday, I was mortified that I had PUT ON 5lbs, 2lbs more than I had been on 1 January! However, I am pleased to report that 2 days of sensible, healthy eating, yoga, and 2 personal training sessions, and the 5lbs have come off again. So I will continue with the sensible eating regime, I have upped my water intake and am positive this helps (although popping to the loo every half an hour is a pain!)

I am starting swimming on Sunday, Pilates on Monday, I have Yoga on Tuesday and my trainer 3 times next week, so hopefully will be happy with the way I look on 30 January – anyone would think it was my 40th! I wish, having a number rather than a 0 after the 4 in your age is quite depressing……

Thank you for listening. It is amazing how getting thoughts out of your head helps to clarify everything!

Have a good weekend.

October 21, 2009


Filed under: Blog — admin @ 9:51 am

So, I went to see the Pixar movie ‘Up’ at the weekend. I had heard that it was a beautiful film, but nothing could prepare me for what an inspirational, uplifting and sad film it was.

The overwhelming message that came across was don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today. Carpe Diem – sieze the day. Follow your dreams, grab every opportunity, value every experience and most of all, treasure every memory!

Dance like no one is watching
Love like you’ll never be hurt
Sing like no one is listening
Live like it’s heaven on earth.
(William Purkey)

If you haven’t already seen it, go and be UPlifted!

July 24, 2009

3 months worth of blogging!

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 8:38 am

Wow! I must have been busy over the past 3 months because I haven’t had a chance to update my blog.

April was a quiet month after a surprisingly busy January, February and March. A lot of my clients were using the first 3 months of the year to get their houses in order and my services were in demand. So, I enjoyed Easter and had a rare chance to carry out my own admin and submit my accounts to my accountant!

I was also given 2 events to organise – one for the end of July (coming up next week actually) and the other for September. So April was spent researching and sourcing various aspects for these.

I also turned 41, which I found more traumatic than turning 40! I think it is the fact that I am now in my forties which in my mind sounds worse. But with age comes experience and I am more confident and self-assured now than I ever have been. I love my work and take great pride in what I do for my clients. the cyber sec is thriving and I like to think that this is due to my passion and enthusiasm for what I do.

I am very pleased to report that thanks to a glowing recommendation from a previous client, I now have my first FTSE 250 client under my belt – none other than easyJet! When the cyber sec was born 3 years ago, I never imagined that I would be working for such a large and renowned organisation. I see it as a great achievement and testament to my skills and talents (enough blowing of my own trumpet).

That’s all for now, I have badges to print for the event next Thursday and running orders to prepare.

Check out my new website devoted to my event management

April 16, 2009

Twilight rocks!

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 9:38 am

I have just finished the book Twilight – I just couldn’t put it down! OK, so it’s obvious it was written for teenagers, as there is no depth to any of the characters and you somehow feel that it is missing sexual references.

But the storyline is great – falling in love with a vampire! What does come across is the danger that the relationship poses and how the intensity of their love blinds them to that danger.

Can’t wait to see the film now……….recommended reading!

April 8, 2009


Filed under: Blog — admin @ 2:02 pm

It’s been a long time since I have inanely rambled to absolutely no-one via my Blog. As some of you may or may not know, I have an teeny weeny problem with the concept of religion.

I was brought up Jewish, although in a very loose sense of the term. My parents sent me to religion school to give me an insight into the religion and left it up to me whether I took it any further.

I didn’t! Well, OK, so I married a Jewish man in synagogue and am giving my sons the same Jewish upbringing as I had. However, it really doesn’t hold any meaning to me and I find it increasingly difficult to acknowledge anything Jewish. I know there will be some people reading this who will be shocked at my honesty, but religion should mean something to you and if it doesn’t, it’s not doing what it says on the tin!

These feelings were only deepened when a couple of years, I went to a Humanist funeral and it made a huge impact on me. The fact that is wasn’t a religion, but a way of thinking, in a totally non-religious way. It was incredibly spiritual and very meaningful and from that moment, I sort of denounced my Jewish identity.

However, this is still quite difficult when most of my family are Jewish and there are certain expectations, especially on various festivals and occasions such as Barmitzvahs of which there are and will be many of the next few years amongst our friends.

The Jewish festival of Passover starts tonight and the Seder meal is traditionally a family occasion. I have in the past few years managed to avoid this, either through being away on business or last year, attending my oldest friend’s 40th birthday celebrations.

However, this year it has fallen on me to welcome the extended family into my home, but on my terms. I am throwing a Good Friday Seder Lunch – combining Easter and Passover. We will be whizzing through the Haggadah (the prayer book used for Passover) with a 20 minute haggadah sourced by MIL; the kids will be hunting for the Afikoman (a piece of hidden Matzo) at the same time as Easter Eggs. And it’s lunchtime, whereas traditionally, the Seder meal is in the evening.

I’ll let you know how it goes……….

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