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The Joys of Teaching Business Communication

February 22, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 143

Before taking up teaching at age 34, I had been a police officer for a decade and during the last year or so in the police force had revised and modernised much of the internal communication methods. One such task involved a complete rewrite of the formal report, which regrettably always began, "I respectfully report with reference to the above and attached...." During my police report training I was astonished that in such advanced times, anyone could write such utter rubbish. When the opportunity presented to make some changes, I enthusiastically offered my services. Almost every change I recommended to the Commissioner of Police was accepted. A new era of police writing began just about the same time I left to begin teaching.

When I commenced my adult education career the subject I most liked teaching was Business Communication. I knew there was a great need for improvement across the board in business communication which tended to be poor at least and mediocre at best. It was something I loved, had studied and knew I was good at. I knew I could make a difference and set out to do so.

For the first two years of my teaching career I taught mainly young females studying business courses as post-secondary students. Straight from secondary school, most were keen to enter the work force in banks, insurance companies, retailing, and the public sector. They had all completed somewhere between 10 and 12 years of formal education and were a generally interesting and keen group. I enjoyed teaching them and was able to add to and improve their education across a range of subjects including word processing, accounting, computing, business principles and practices, business documents, and business communication.

Eventually I moved to a TAFE college in a remote mining community where I taught post-secondary students by day and adult evening students several evenings per week. I always looked forward to my evening classes and the interaction with adults. My evening Business Communication class just happened to include four or five police officers whom the Commissioner of Police had told would not receive a pay rise until they completed a business communication course or adult matriculation. Knowing I had been partly responsible for this decision by the Commissioner I decided not to divulge to these guys that I had once been part of their department. This I thought would deter any suggestions of preferential treatment with assessment or expectations regarding attendance requirements etc.

I always commenced the first business communication classes with the same task; students had to write a memo to their superiors asking for time off work for personal reasons. They would hand it to me and I would mark it and return it with suggestions for improvement. I would then retain the memo until the end of the course at which time I would present them with the exact same task which they would complete. I would then ask them to compare both memoranda. The point of the exercise was to show them how much they had improved their writing. It always worked.

It was the second session when I returned the memoranda completed at session one. I'd always highlight some points and make a joke about others. One of the police officers had commenced his memo with the old police term, "I respectfully report with reference to the above and attached...." and I asked him why he had done so. He responded that this was the way reports and other communication commenced in the police service. The ensuing conversation went something like this, I said, "No it isn't, this type of opening sentence went out in 19XX when the new Police Manual of Style was issued."

Him, "No it didn't".

Me, "Yes it did".

Him, "How would you know what happens in the police service?"

Me, "I worked in the Office of the Commissioner of Police. I wrote the Police Manual of Style and the Commissioner's Instruction to Police requiring that it was to be implemented by all staff. If you aren't writing according to the manual, you are disobeying the Commissioner's instructions."

A silence fell over the room for a few seconds and then I told them I would see them next session. At the next session the police officer told me he had looked up the Police Manual of Style and I was correct. I managed to get rid of that annoying opening sentence forever.

Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer who writes articles about a wide range of topics. He comes from Alice Springs in Central Australia where he runs an Internet marketing and consulting business.

Further information is available at or you can visit his Working Smarter blog at

Source: EzineArticles
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