Let’s take e-mails as an example:
- Brief, to-the-point e-mails are often viewed as terse.
- E-mails with tons of exclamation points and emoticons can be construed as over-the-top or insincere.
- One supercharged word can alienate the reader from the get-go and the rest of the message is essentially lost.
- Long e-mails will be scanned by busy people and the most salient point can be overlooked.
Now, extrapolate these assumptions to longer communications like personal letters, reports or even books. We all have the same 26-letter alphabet to string together words, phrases and paragraphs. Are we certain that our apology comes off as sincere or that our argument is persuasive and not snarky?
What’s that you say? People should communicate face-to-face and there wouldn’t be these problems?
Ha! And double ha, I say to you. In-person communication can be just as fraught with inaccuracies based on perceived attitudes, gestures, body language, etc. We may be so antsy waiting for our turn to speak that we completely miss nuances in the other person’s words. A person looks at his watch and we think he's not interested in what we're saying.
So, how do we become clearer in our communications? Let me know what’s worked for you – or if you have any examples of miscommunications to share.