In advertising we strive to distill a client’s message to the most concise, powerful and evocative communication possible. This skill is also extremely beneficial in daily communications. With over a million words in the English language, it takes practice to be clear and concise in our everyday conversations.
Is it really that important?
The goal of working to improve our communication is simple – require less communication. No one likes an email that leaves them guessing, triggers more questions and initiates a long back and forth email string to get the facts gathered. It’s estimated that on a typical business day in 2018, we will log over 139.4 billion emails! Email is just one vehicle of communication. Here are some tips for improving the messages you send out – and the ones you receive, regardless of the vehicle.
- Get to the point. Take a moment to gather your thoughts so you can focus on the main point while supporting it with details, but not muddying it. If someone is new to a conversation that has a lot of history – do a quick recap to catch them up and avoid questions and misdirection.
- Learn to listen. Clear your mind and avoid thoughts of what you’ll say next. Listen to the words, how they are being spoken and observe non-verbal messages accompanying them. Pausing to let the sender’s message sink in and asking for clarification are two ways to avoid confusion.
- Three Es.
- Emotional Balance – be aware of other people’s emotions and be honest about yours. Do not communicate rashly.
- Empathy is seeing other people’s perspectives which is helpful in both sending messages and interpreting incoming messages. Remember, 93% of communication is non-verbal. 100% of email is verbal communication, so you can’t detect body language or tone. We still haven’t perfected the sarcasm font.
- Encouragement goes a long way toward helping conversations flow smoothly and positively. Who doesn’t appreciate a cheerleader?
- Minimize stress. Stress can be a major barrier to effective communication. Remain calm and focused. Do not apply undue stress in your conversation.
- Be direct. If the goal of your message is to assign a task, say that and ensure the recipient has the info/tools to accomplish the task. Avoid confusion by asking questions directly. Be clear on priorities and deadlines. Communicate your expectations concisely.
Working to become a better communicator will benefit you and everyone you talk to by eliminating unnecessary back and forth, avoiding confusion, and getting things done more quickly and effectively.