Have you ever had a situation where you sent someone a text or an email and the message was completely misunderstood? Ever had a prolonged period of discomfort between you and the recipient as a result?
Because we have dehumanized communications an awful lot gets lost in translation.
When you post, send a text, IM or email you do so without the benefit of direct human interaction. You don’t make eye contact, you don’t hear the tone of voice nor do you see each other’s body language. You lose the ability immediately to note how someone is actually responding to what you’re saying and to clarify in the moment to ensure the message is heard properly.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t take advantage of the efficiency and convenience of technology. It would be pretty hard to run your business without using posts, texts, IMs and emails. I’m also not saying that you cannot be creative in what you write and how you express yourself. (After all, my friends know that I’m the queen of making up words!) What I’m talking about is when you need to convey a message clearly to your clients and customers, your staff, your vendors and your peers.
Here are three simple things you can do to make sure less gets lost in translation:
1. Make your point.
2. Make sure your context is clear.
3. Make your point in language that your recipient will relate to.
Make your point.
Here are some stats I’ve been seeing: On average, business people receive about 90 emails each day and send about 40. If you’re 45-55 you receive and send about 16 texts/IMs per day, If you’re 25-45 you receive and send more than 85 texts/IMs every day. If you’re under 24, that number rises to 128 per day. So get to the point. Considering how much we’re bombarded with digital contacts, you need to make your point clearly and fastly (see how I make up words? Lol!).
Make sure your context is clear.
You have seen how a tweet can be taken out of context and spun into a media frenzy. Take a moment to make sure your recipients know what your context is and keep it crystal clear. Remember that your recipients are human and they’re often in a hurry so they will only scan your message rather than reading it carefully.
Make your point in language that your recipient can relate to.
Think about who you are writing to and make sure you use their language. It’s not about you, it’s about your recipient. When you do this, your odds of being heard and understood go up dramatically.
Take care in what you write… I’m not talking about the 125 character limit, but actual words and phrases carefully selected to convey a message as it is intended to be received. Make your point, give clear context around your message and do your best to say what you mean in a way that it will be received as you intended. Plug in your brain and practice writing quickly and clearly. Oh, and spell things out instead of always shortcutting… KWIM?