Archive for February, 2011

Considerate Communication

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Male and female conversationWhat do I mean by considerate communication?

Asking for a person’s attention while being respectful of their time.

How do you demonstrate your consideration?

Do whatever it takes to make communication easy for the recipient.

This statement is so important it is worth repeating.  Do whatever it takes to make communication easy for the recipient. Think about the people with whom you would rather communicate.  They are likely easy to listen to, easy to understand, and easy to share an exchange of ideas.

There is a classic saying, “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter”.   Indeed, it does take more time to organize clear, concise, and compelling communication.  If you want people to listen, understand, and retain your ideas, then take a few minutes to organize your thoughts.  And, ‘Do whatever it takes to make it easy for the recipient.’

Daily we experience waves of information overload.  Our heads are full and so are our email folders and voicemail boxes.  Our time is squeezed multi-tasking at home and at work, and multi-managing communication devices.  We suffer from the T’N’T effect — Technology and Time deficit.

Attention spans have dwindled.  In a rush to communicate we do not take the necessary time to process and edit our thoughts.  As words form in our head they go directly to the page or out of our mouth.   We rush to hit the ‘send ‘ button.  Rambling emails, conversations, and voice messages leave the recipient with the frustrating task of sifting through all the content in an effort to decipher the important information. This is no way to make friends and influence people.

Before you write that next email, make that call or ask for a meeting, take a few minutes to, ‘Do whatever it takes to make communication easy for the recipient’. Follow this efficient, effective and considerate process.

  1. Keep your ideas short and simple.  Compound and complex language causes disengagement and frustration.
  2. Prioritize your main points. Don’t assume the recipient will stay focused to the end of your communication to get ‘the good stuff’ .
  3. Include only the information that is relevant and helpful to the recipient. Minimize the backstory.
  4. Construct a logical flow of ideas.  This helps the recipient to understand and strengthens retention.
  5. Replace long-winded explanations with examples, metaphors, or analogies. The recipient is more likely to remain engaged.
  6. Review and determine the extraneous or superfluous information. Distill. Review. Distill.
  7. Proffread. I mean proofread!