Today's post comes from Mary Johnstun, president and founder of Lexicon and Line.
When I was young, the concept of Santa Claus “making a list and checking it twice” always fascinated me. The idea that Santa is extremely thorough in his list making assumes the obvious – nothing is getting by this guy. There’s a list for goodness sake. He's going to check things…twice! To this day, when the song pops up on my carefully-crafted holiday Amazon Music station, that line always rings out loud and true.
When it comes to communicating in the workplace, we all need to embrace our inner Santa Claus by checking our work twice. The words (written or spoke) you gift to others, have the power to inform, describe, clarify, persuade, or encourage.
When you craft and send a well-written (or perfectly spoken) communication, you are giving the recipient the gift of clarity and connection. Imagine the receiver opening your gift. “Wow!” their brain proclaims, “I totally get what this person is saying. This is thoughtful and clear and look – they took the time to edit it. It’s perfect! Moving on.”
Sure, in a given work day when one consumes thousands upon thousands of words a day, no coworker, colleague, or client is actually going to respond in such a fashion. However, recall a recent encounter when you received an unclear, unedited, or under-developed email, report, or proposal. I bet your brain stumbled a bit upon processing it. Your thoughts paused. Perhaps you had to re-read it to understand what was being conveyed. The editing errors stood out as being sloppy and unprofessional. Essentially, and without your conscious decision to do so, your brain likely became busy unpacking more than the sender’s message. Your brain became distracted as it processed the coal it’s just received. “Why did I get this?” it grumbled. “What I really wanted was…”
In this scenario, had the message been checked twice before being sent, you would have just been able to process the content quickly and clearly. Communication errors get in the way of connecting the message sent with the one received.
What does “checking it twice” mean when it comes to writing in the workplace? Consider the following quick tips for embracing your inner Santa Claus as you tackle your day to day professional communications:
Re-read your writing before sending it. Don’t glimpse it or scan it. Don’t solely rely on spell check. Read it again, word for word. If it’s a high-stakes communication, find a quiet corner and read it aloud.
While you shouldn’t rely solely on spell check for your final review, always utilize spell check. We love the writing app Grammarly. Install the free version and reap the benefits.
Take a look for your “big points” – the ones you absolutely don’t want your audience to miss. Are they front and center? Are they worded clearly and carefully?
Skim for tone. Are you communicating to the receiver in an appropriate manner?
Skim for unnecessary text. Have you repeated yourself? Are you mixing too many messages? Are you supplying unnecessary information? Consider the recipient’s time and be thoughtful of it.
If you and your employees need some help with writing, contact us today!
Lexicon & Line LLC, is a women-owned small business providing research and data collection services, employee training and human capital services, and project management services. We are dedicated to helping agencies, businesses, colleges, and non-profits better connect with those they serve.