Improve Your Communication in 1 Easy Step

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Posted May 30, 2013 by Adrienne Asselmeier in On the Ladder
People-questions

There’s something about humans that makes us able to understand even the most nuanced of situations, and yet we are terrible at simply communicating ideas to each other. I don’t know how many times I’ve actively listened in a meeting, and thought to myself that the person said a lot of things, but never gave the important details. Or, I was in a conversation with two other people who wanted to sound enlightening, but were actually just paraphrasing each other. Not every bit of communication that we have has to be ultra effective. Sometimes we just chit chat, or engage in storytelling that includes much more description. When it comes to office communication and professional writing or speaking, however, effective communication is the key to being taken seriously and being a great leader or part of the team.

Whether it’s never been a strong skill for you, or you just realize that you could get better, there is one proven way to communicate more effectively.

Pretend there is a fire.

If there is a fire and you need to tell someone something, you’re going to get that information out quickly and in the fewest words possible. You won’t find different ways to say the same thing, and you won’t feel the need to keep talking because you simply don’t know how to end a sentence or connect your thoughts.

Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t literally pretend that there is a fire, because that would lead to yelling and anxiety, but think of your communication as an outline, or like you’re sending an old-timey telegram. You don’t want fluff or superfluous information—you just need to explain the pertinent details, and then you can end it.

I can talk a lot. I can really go on and on. My husband has spent hours worrying about my whereabouts just to find that I had lost track of time and accidentally talked to someone for three hours when I said I’d be gone twenty minutes. I would be the worst office mate ever if I didn’t reel in my communication and get to the point. So sometimes when I am writing a long email, or about to explain a complex project, I’ll pretend there’s a fire and I only have enough time to say the most important details. Rarely does anyone need all of the information, but if you take a second to think about what the pertinent details are, then you’ll soon realize that you’re including unnecessary words and entire sentences that don’t add to the message.

Once you’ve mastered the content, remember to go back and re-read your emails. Sure, it will be faster if you can just fire off an email in sixty seconds on then move on to the next, but I review everything that I write because no matter how organized I am in my writing, I forget words. I can misspell, or say something twice accidentally. People will still understand you, but they will also think that you don’t have good attention to detail, and that they are not important enough for you to take time writing a clear message to them.


About the Author

Adrienne Asselmeier

Adrienne "Dren" Asselmeier is a writer and marketing specialist. Dren has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and is a blogger, runner, over-achiever, and friend to everyone. She likes to write about science-based health and fitness, small business ownership, and motivational topics.

5 Comments


  1.  

    It’s taken me a long time to learn that less is often more in terms of communication. Like you suggested, I always reread my emails before sending. Even when I’m trying to be direct and brief, I find plenty to cut out. “Pretend there’s a fire” is a great tip to remember!




  2.  

    Thanks! Yes, even after years of formal education in communication and language I found that I was using so much extra verbiage. It wasn’t until late in college that a professor pointed out to me how much I use words like “very,” “really,” and “definitely.” I thought it would make my writing sound stronger, but he would get my papers and cross off those words every time I used them. That’s when I realized that I did it constantly, and that it made my communication weaker. Not everyone has to have professional writer-lever communication, but simple ideas like this can help!




  3.  
    Kathi Toll

    Love this article! I can be the queen of babble, especially if I’m not comfortable with a topic!




  4.  
    Kelley Long

    That’s a great way to think of it! Brevity is so important, especially these days when most of us just skim instead of read. I’d like to share this with so many people in my sphere!

    Thanks, Dren!





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