Maximum Communication Effectiveness

As we’ve covered many times, working well with people is paramount in boosting your productivity and success. And that brings communication skills and effectiveness to the fore.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m offering here a set of guidelines to help you get your work and your life messages across to others with minimal mis-communication:

Keep Your Communications Short and Sweet

It takes a little more time to communicate more briefly, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. The most obvious reason is that shorter messages are more respectful of the recipient’s time and effort. We’ve all been hit with “TL;DR” responses. They’re frustrating for the message originator, and also a sign of frustration on the part of the recipient.

They’re also signposts of failed communications, and reminders that shorter messages are more likely to be received and mentally processed.

Make Your Message Clear

This is a two-pronged guideline: Obviously, you must communicate your message to another person as clearly as you can. But to accomplish this, you must first be clear in your own head and heart exactly what message you are trying to communicate.

To do this, think before you communicate. If necessary, make some notes to yourself covering the point(s) you want to convey. If you’ve got more than one point to make, put them in some sensible order so they take the other person by the hand and guide them on the journey you want them to experience.

Only then are you prepared to communicate your message clearly and effectively.

Make Your Message Specific

Another element of more effective communication is specificity. It can be all in good fun to communicate in generalities or euphemisms. But when you’re seriously trying to get across some important information, it’s better to express it more precisely.

Precision requires not only that you say what you mean, but that you say it accurately and completely, using the right words and covering all the relevant territory. This way, the person receiving your communications is most likely to understand the message as you intended it, and be in a good position to respond meaningfully without needing either clarification or amplification.

Aim Your Message Squarely at Your Recipient

Speaking of achieving clarity and using the right words, a key element in effective communication is to craft your message for your intended recipient(s). This involves factors like:

  • Understanding what the recipient already knows and cares about, and keeping the message centered in these territories.
  • Focusing on the new information you want to convey, rather than old news.
  • Using jargon and technical language where it fits, and not where it doesn’t.
  • Breaking new ground, when and where necessary, in gradual and non-threatening ways.  

Make Your Message Sensible

Your communication should make logical sense, starting with a clear set up, and including persuasive arguments where needed to support the main point you’re trying to convey.

When you do this right, your recipient will have no trouble understanding what you are communicating and what kind of response you’re looking for. S/he may not agree with what you’re saying and may not respond the way you hope. But you and your recipient will at least be on the same page.

Make Your Message Social

It doesn’t take a lot of extra time, when you communicate, to include a friendly greeting and a courteous closing, such as starting with “Hi” or “Dear ….”, and adding “Take care” or “Regards” at the end.

It’s also helpful if you can throw in a specific, honest remark to help the recipient feel you know who they are and what’s going on in their work and/or their life. This remark can be anything generic along the lines of “How’s the family,” or “Happy Holidays,” to a pointed remark that reflects something specific you know about the recipient, such as: “I hope your kid recovered from that recent runny nose.”

This kind of social signaling helps to grease the tracks for better communication because it tends to energize the recipient to devote more attention to your message, and to try a little harder to comply with what you want.

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