Written text (AKA the bane of our existence). We use it daily. We’ve pretty much been forced into it via technology.
Emails. Text messages. Social media platforms and direct messaging. Instant messaging. COMMUNICATION WITH OUR TEACHERS AND DAYCARE PROVIDERS!!! If you hate written text I feel for you. I don’t even know how you’re surviving right now. It’s not my personal cup of tea, but I don’t hate it. It can actually be quite convenient at times. It’s (naturally) documented communication for historical reference / accountability. It allows one the ability to think out their thought multiple times, revise it, review it, and THEN send it once it’s perfectly messaged. It’s actually great now that I think about it.
What it lacks is the human element of what collectively equates to its Voice. It lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. If you’re anything like myself, you absolutely love the ART of Communication! And you also understand why written text is the most misunderstood form of communication that we have. Yet we use it more than any other form in corporate culture today. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and emphasis on certain words (or the lack thereof) all combine to give your words life and true meaning.
Unfortunately, without the aforementioned elements, we’re taking away our power as the speaker to convey a concise thought. The result? Our thought is abandoned to a wilderness of translation by the receiver without any of the additional indicators for guidance on what we actually meant to say! And because the receiver can’t read our minds, they often guess wrong.
This leads to work place spin, frustration, and animosity (all things that make us less than great in our daily work).
So how do we avoid this? Glad that you asked!
In today’s world of remote work, emails, and instant messaging – here’s my 3 step guide to adding “Life” back into our daily written communications:
1. Never , Ever, EVER End a Sentence with the Infamous DOT DOT DOT …
By nature – this is an ambiguous form of communication. It leaves the receiver wondering what was un-said in your communication. It implies that something is missing, and that you should fill in the void with your own thoughts. In an already confusing channel of communications, this is the 9th level of Hell for those who overthink written communication / intent. The receiver will get lost in his/her thoughts over analyzing your communication for hidden messages for minutes, hours, maybe even days. Don’t do this – JUST DON’T!
2. Simple Greetings and Salutations Go a Long Way
Typically we communicate in corporate spaces because we need an action out of the user. By the very nature of work, it’s somewhat dehumanizing. We spend the bulk of our waking hours taking orders and executing task. We may feel fulfilled by these task, but ask yourself this, “If they weren’t paying me, would I enjoy this”? Yeah, didn’t think so . So keep that in mind when you email a request. Insert a simple “good morning” at the beginning, a “please” in the middle, and a “thanks” at the end. You’d be amazed at how much more will get done with just this small tweak in communication style. Once you’ve mastered this and realized the benefits, level up by including mutual interest themes throughout (i.e. images / gifs from a movie / show that you both enjoy, etc..) Suddenly… BOOM! – REMOTE WORK CAMARADERIE OBTAINED!
3. Sometimes a Call is Better
Riddle me this: Who needs another email daily? How about 20? The reality is, if you’re asking a question that the person won’t have readily available / previous knowledge of, then its probably best to start with a phone call / face to face conversation. The best performers don’t waste time daily and nor should you. Have the 5 minute conversation, send a recap email for documentation purposes and then move forward. Save yourself, the recipient, and anyone else who you would’ve CC’d another 20 “Reply All” emails while boosting productivity across multiple teams!