Submitted by Don Doman.
In communication so much is said and so much of it is taken for granted . . . or not. I’ve always liked the story of the general who sent an order to his troop, “Have your company moved to the left wing” with no punctuation. The response came back, “No, they haven’t.”
“The biggest single problem with communication, is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
There have never been so many ways to communicate as there are in today’s world. And, yet . . . communication is still a problem with misspellings in tweets from the White House to emails sent to the wrong people, fake news, and much more.
Here are four primary concerns of communication: names, clarity, grammar, and delivery.
Names are so important. They give you a connection. When I first joined Rotary in 1990 I was given a small handbook with by-laws and history of the club as well as photos and details of each member. The Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 at that time had over four hundred members. Before attending each meeting, I would page through the images and names. By the time I was president, I knew most of our members AND how to pronounce their names. In any organization if you don’t know who the people are what they do, then you’re at a disadvantage. Knowing the people is a major step in communicating.
My best friend in high school was Rich Christenson. He told me once, “If you say something to me and my expression doesn’t change . . . tell me, again.” I look for those clues when I talk to people face-to-face. Being clear when using digital communications is doubly important. If people aren’t sure what you said, then the problem is generally you. Not them.
Grammar leaves much to be desired most of the time. Punctuation is a large part of grammar. Like the battlefield cavalry message, with proper grammar and punctuation, you lessen the possibilities of bad communication.
Delivery of communication is a lot easier done in person. Like my friend Rich, in person you have a chance to see right away if your message is understood by facial expression. The problem with text messages is that you can’t hear the tone or see the expression of the person who wrote it. I loved the idea of the comedian who suggested we use a new font. That way you could look at someone’s email and say, “Oh, I get it. They are using ‘Sarcastica’ as the font.” Perhaps, we need a number of new fonts: Sorry, Happy, Just Kidding, Congrats, and Good Luck.
Mostly in communication you want to get to the point. French philosopher Francois Fenelon said, “The more you say, the less people remember.” With important communication, be brief, be exact, and be careful.