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Think before you send: 3 Ideas for better communication

I spoke recently about the power of personal communication. I’m a huge believer in the value that anyone can get from taking a personal approach with somebody because it can give you flexibility to adjust the things that you say, how you present yourself, eye contact, and body language to convey a more complete story. Obviously though for a lot of reasons we don’t get to do that type of personal communication as often as we would like. As a result of that, a lot of our day to day communications ends up being via chat, text, email and such because that’s the way of the modern age. So much of our daily work is done with colleagues that we can’t see and we aren’t able to walk down the hall and visit with them. I don’t want to ignore video conferencing and things like that because those are great ways to get as close to that personal interaction feel that you’d like to have for most of your communications.

Since most of us spend a good portion of our day communicating with others and writing in emails, chats, and texts, I think it’s worth mentioning a couple things to think about before you hit send. These are just a few lessons that I’ve learned over time that I think are important.

  1. The power of spell check- Over the years I’ve had some embarrassing things slip through the cracks because I either didn’t spell check or did spell check and failed tor reread. If you missed it, I ended up having to write a blog post about apologizing for your mistakes because asses and assess are two different things which I had to learn the hard way.
  2. Consider an email tagline for messages that come from your mobile device- A tagline from your mobile device should convey that those messages may not be as verbose as what you would usually put forward. I’ve seen things like, “Message may be terse sent from mobile device,” something like that that allows people to understand that you’re maybe not giving them the full breadth of communication you normally would. It warns them that maybe your tone or words may not have the formality that they normally would. I think this is sort of expectation setting. I’ve gotten lots of four and five word emails and I think while its becoming more common, some people will see that and think, “wow not a lot of effort was put into this.”
  3. If it’s really important get somebody else to read it- Just because you can’t walk down the hall and go see that person doesn’t mean that you can’t walk down the hall and ask somebody else to read your message. That way you can make sure that when a normal third party is reading it, they read the same thing that you’re reading. A lot of important business gets conducted via email these days and you cannot be too careful with the really important items that go out in email. I think something that’s happened to a lot of people is that maybe they don’t put the same care into an email that they would into a document and mistakes happen. They might say something in an email that comes across poorly and it changes the dynamic of the discussion or the negotiation that you’re having. The scary part about that is that you may never know that it happened because there is no visual cue. There is no way to see that somebody has become less interested and that something you said has offended them.

So those are three very simple ways to communicate in a digital age with hopefully fewer misunderstanding. I’d love to hear feedback and if anyone has anything they else they might want to add to the list.

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