You’ve seen them – social media posts that go on for paragraphs, complete with endless details and sometimes loaded with emojis.
And then there are the “three-word” posts – to the point, no fluff.
You see it in emails as well.
There are those who email like they are texting – no name, no details, just “I need this,” or, “Do this.”
Then there are those who write mini-books, complete with the details of life and the history of mankind, before getting down to business.
Lest you think this is a modern-day issue, consider that, in days gone by, the same patterns were evident in letters, memos, and postcards.
It is also a pattern you will see in face-to-face conversations, on phone calls, and in meetings.
The platforms may vary, but the pattern remains: different types of people communicate in different ways.
But here’s the thing:
Communication is a two-way street.
If you only speak, write, or type in the way you prefer, you may not be communicating at all. For communication to happen, you must connect.
And so, it is important to be able to communicate with people in a way that connects with them. This is something I learned from a wise mentor early in my career and have practiced intentionally through the years.
My natural style would be to communicate in three short lines or less. Details slow down the action. But I often collaborate with people who need at least a few details to do their work.
While doing the level of detailed work they do (programming, for example) goes well beyond my level of patience and ability; I do intentionally provide enough detail to give the picture of what is needed. And then I make myself available for any questions they may have as they process the idea in their brilliant minds.
And I have always appreciated those detailed people who tailor their communication with me by summarizing the conversation into a few bullet-pointed highlights or questions.
This is communication. It is being true to your style, but adapting just a bit to provide a little more (or less) information.
Here are three quick tips for effective communication.
1. Is it CLEAR?
It is easy to jump in and send off a short message without realizing the person on the receiving end may have no idea what you are talking about. They haven’t been part of the conversation or your thought process before this point. So, before you send that text or email, stop and ask: “Is it clear?” If you received the same message out of the blue, would you understand it clearly? Have you provided them with a quick big picture view before diving in to the question or task at hand?
Customer service support teams see this more and more, especially as we have become a texting society. They will get requests for help with absolutely no detail as to what someone may need help with. Messages may not even include a name, and the email address may differ from what is on the record. Always provide just enough detail to help those who work hard to help you. In the end, you’ll receive quicker responses and better service. Clarity is key.
2. Is it CONCISE?
If you are given to detail, this is a gift. But when communicating with someone who isn’t, always ask yourself: “Is it concise?”
You need to know and do details, but what does your D-wired leader or team member really need to know? A “rule of three” is helpful – three bullet points, questions, or ideas (with proposed solutions) at a time. This allows them to make quick decisions so you can continue to move the project (and the details) forward.
3. Is it CORDIAL?
For those who are naturally task-oriented, conversations will be short and task-focused:
“Now do this.”
However, it is important to pause frequently before sending messages, starting meetings, or having conversations to ask: “Is it cordial?”
Consider a D-wired leader who started team meetings by diving right in to tasks that were on his mind as soon as the team entered the room. There was no quick pre-meeting, “How are you?” Just…tasks. He also sent out emails to customers in the same manner. The team was not connected, and the customer response was limited.
But as he started to get to know his team a bit and had someone create a bit of connection in his emails, the team began to be more cohesive; and customers began to respond. He went from survival mode in his business to being on-track for a record year, with a more connected team and thank you’s from satisfied customers instead of complaints from unhappy ones.
In today’s fast-paced, AI society, it is important to remember that what we do is still very much about serving people. And cordiality matters.
While there are books on the subject of communication, starting with these three C’s and asking them on a regular basis will go far in helping you connect with your team and others. Communication is a skill you can develop with practice. And the value of communicating well is incredible.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.