Communication is Fragile and Open to Misinterpretation

Have you ever had someone email you in monosyllables, giving instructions on a complex issue, only to leave you scratching your head, trying to extrapolate what they mean? Well, it happens all the time, and it’s the surest way to ensure mistakes in translating and acting on instructions in your communication.

Email and messaging apps are used constantly by today’s communicators, because they have their own vernacular, truncating text and allowing a time-deficient writer to hurry through a message and get it to the reader. Great, you say, but it’s not.

Unless you’re an attorney, whose written language is excruciatingly precise, you could be guilty of delivering puzzling, incomplete messages. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that your reader knows what you’re talking about, based upon past discussion of the subject. Information must be within context of what you’re delivering right now, with relevant background and related facts.

Believe it or not, there are simple shortcuts to writing lucid, clear messages that can be created and delivered quickly. Mind Tools – (Twitter – @mind_tools) offers “The 7 C’s of Communication”, which we synopsize here, as a great way to put out clear messages:

  1. Take a minute to organize your thoughts before you start typing or dictating. Be clear in what you intend to write, putting one clear idea into each sentence.
  2. Be concise – stay on point, and stay brief, using short sentences. Your audience doesn’t want to read six sentences, with a lot of filler words, when the point could be made in one sentence.
  3. Support your message with concrete details relevant to the topic. Confusion can reign when the writer gets caught up in superfluous words that are unnecessary for clarity.
  4. Correct grammar and punctuation is critical. Read the message a couple of times before you send it, looking for grammatical errors, including syntax and spelling. Being perceived at literate lends credibility to your message.
  5. A clear communication must be coherent, with a logical order of ideas and thoughts that reinforce the topic.
  6. A complete message provides your reader with all of the tools necessary to be informed and to take action, as necessary. Ask yourself whether your message has a “call to action” as well as relevant information, including names, places, dates, times and such.
  7. Courtesy is an essential component of effective messages, because words can sometimes be taken the wrong way. If you’re uncertain whether to use a particular word, characterization, description, or sentence structure that could trigger the wrong response, rethink it. That’s the beauty of the English language; there are so many clear ways to relate your message, accurately.