Occasionally I go reread an email or letter I sent and cringe. It sounded good at the time, I spell checked and proofed it (admittedly quickly) before sending, but it didn't quite give the message I intended. Any tips (other than "be more careful next time") on how to improve the quality of my communication.
Sounds like an easy problem to solve but, as good writing coaches will confirm, the solution to improving communication in a fast paced business environment is not obvious. Good communication takes both time and care, which we seem to not want to provide in our haste to "knock out a few emails," measuring our effectiveness by how many rather than by how effective they are. Pascal said (although attributed to many others since), "I made this [letter] very long, because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter."
However, here are three ideas that might marginally improve your emails:
- Reread your work from bottom to top instead of from top to bottom. Your mind can sometimes trick you by efficiently "filling in" a missing word when you are reading from top to bottom.
- Print a copy of your correspondence and read it out loud and see how it sounds or use the applications some word processors have for text-to-speech.
- If possible and appropriate, save it as a draft and leave it alone for a while, at least for an hour and even overnight. Reread it the next morning when your mind is a little fresher and you have been away from it for a while (particularly useful when you are crafting a note in haste or anger!).
These might help a bit but there are few "tricks" to improve communication if you are not willing to give it the time and respect the recipient deserves.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA