How to communicate in a clear, concise, & actionable way. Every single day
Communication is the glue of your career.
Every single day in the workplace we are exchanging information with colleagues. We are communicating all day long. If we can’t properly communicate, we can’t properly do our jobs. Thus, communication skills can make or break a career.
Additionally, the rationale behind each communication is crucial. Always know the reason why the communication is taking place. Before you initiate any communication, ask yourself, "What am I trying to accomplish?" Even chitchat should have a purpose, even if it's just to build camaraderie.
Give your audience the information they need, in the order they need it, in words designed to be clear and concise.
Remember that every communication reflects upon your career. Emails/phone calls/meetings/voicemails – they all matter. They all add up to the sum of your career.
How do we communicate in a clear, concise and effective way? Here we go!
Workplace communication thrives on the concept of truth. Be honest with others. Be honest with yourself.
The workplace is where we collect the insights of all of the employees in order to be productive and profitable as an organization. Answer difficult questions with the truth, even if it challenges the status quo.
It may not seem like a big deal in small doses, but lies can tear down an entire organization.
Let’s refrain from telling someone what we think they want to hear. They need to hear the truth. Not an exaggeration of a harmless story or an exaggeration of data, but the actual truth.
Respectfulness is when you believe that the other person is worthy of your time and insights.
Respectfulness is when you admire the qualities and capabilities of the other person.
Respecting others, in every way, will lead to more effective communications while building stronger relationships, gaining more trust and understanding your colleague’s needs. Respect is the cornerstone of an open line of communication.
Be respectful of etiquette. Using manners in this fast-paced world will truly set you apart from others in the workplace.
Be respectful of time. Be on time. Whether it is for a meeting or for a project deadline, be on time. Other people have just as busy lives, yet somehow, they make it on time. Completing tasks on time showcases that you are an employee who can be trusted and held accountable.
Be respectful of space. Close-talker, this one is for you. Please know that everyone has a different sized personal bubble. If you see someone slowly moving backwards while you talk with them in person…then please step it back a notch.
Be respectful of pronouns. Pronouns can be the scariest words in the workplace. Refrain from using pronouns while communicating. Pronouns tend to make the communication into a blame game. “You said…” or “I told you to…” or “Remember when you did…” “Why didn’t you…?” Here are some ways to avoid them:
- As discussed, _____________.
- Per our chat, ______________.
- Seeking some clarity on how things were handled.
Be respectful of ideas. Be open to other ideas, concepts and procedures. Your openness will breed more open communication because you have set the stage for bringing more than one idea to the table.
Be Clear and Concise
We need to tell our colleagues what we need from them – and tell them in a clear and concise way. Make it easy for them to help you.
Clear. What is the reason you are communicating with the other person?
Concise. Less is more. Get right to the point.
Doing this will benefit your colleagues, will provide productivity to your organization and will make you look awesome!!
Provide The Right Amount of Information.
Give your colleagues the right amount of information. Not too much and not too little.
Look to the other person for guidance on how much information to provide:
- Did they ask you a yes/no question? If at all possible, answer it with a yes or no answer. If there needs to be additional clarification, then keep it limited to what is needed for the specific question asked of you; OR
Did they ask you an open-ended question? The amount of information provided on this answer will depend on the audience. If the other person has lots of background information on the particular question, then less is more. If the other person doesn’t have a lot of background information on the particular question, then provide enough context to give them the answer but don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary details.
What does effective communication look like from a practical perspective? I’m so glad you asked…here are a few ways to apply effective communication:
These days, emails are often the preferred form of communication in the workplace. Emails allow you to be articulate, clear and concise. Emails are also a great way to document the current status of a project. Before you send any emails, consider these tips:
Wait. If you are sending an email and you are mad/frustrated/annoyed/feeling sassy, please wait to send it. Wait until you are no longer emotional. If you can’t get over your frustration, then email isn’t the right avenue to communicate. Pick up the phone, or even better, talk to them in person. Remember, whatever you put in an email can virtually last forever, long after you’ve gotten over whatever temporary bad feeling you had when you sent it.
Intent. Why do you need to send this email? What is the goal of this email? Is it information or a request for something?
People. Who truly needs to be on this email? Is it the forty-three people you have in mind – or maybe just three people? Are the other forty people needed on the cc line – or can you trust that the three people will cascade the information/request accordingly?
Forwarding emails. While there is information below, restate a summary for the recipients rather than just making them decipher it. Save them time and make yourself look astounding. Please don’t just forward an email without any commentary above the forwarded email. Please.
Sometimes phone calls are a great way to communicate. They can shave off days of responding to emails, if used properly. Here is a great way to effectively communicate via phone calls:
“Hi Jimmy. Do you have a moment to chat? (If the answer is no…) When is a good time to chat?”
Tell them if you are asking them a question or giving them information. This will properly frame the phone call.
Give them a bit a background information in order to give them context.
DO NOT start mid-sentence with a story that you assume they know already.
Ask the question/share the information.
Send a follow-up email if there is an action item for either of you.
It probably sounds more complicated than it is in practice, but these tips will help you to avoid bothering a colleague with a frustrating phone call.
Voicemail (Can we please limit these to less than 30 seconds. Please?)
Voicemails are no different than any other communication. Just a super shortened version of them. Here’s a clear and concise example:
“Hi Jimmy. This is Jamie. I have a quick question for you about _____(concise summary). Please give me a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Again, this is Jamie at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thanks and have a great day.”
When you communicate in an effective and actionable way, it facilitates collaboration, helps your colleagues…and makes you look amazing!