In business, communicating effectively is everything. Your people have to understand what you want, you need to understand what they want, and everyone needs to communicate effectively with customers, clients, vendors, and others who are important to your business.

So why is so much communication handled so poorly?

Phil Simon, author of Message Not Received, suggests that much of business communication today is broken, and most people don't know how to fix it. Says Simon, "As a general rule, the quality and clarity of business communication have deteriorated considerably over the past 10 years. Many people have lost the ability to communicate clearly (read: without business jargon). And, by relying far too much on one medium (e-mail), we muddy our messages even further."

The good news is that business communication can be fixed. Try these six ways to make sure your messages are received loud and clear.

1. Be as clear as possible

Unfortunately, it's all too tempting to beat around the bush in an effort to avoid hurting feelings or when we're uncertain what it is that we're talking about. Always be frank, direct, and clear in your communication. Anything less confuses your message, and it wastes everyone's time.

2. Think about your audience

The message you send should be specifically tailored to the person who is going to receive it, and the language you use should reflect that. For example, don't send out messages filled with acronyms and arcane terms if the person you're sending it to is unlikely to understand what it is you're talking about.

3. Wait a minute (or two or three) before you respond

Instead of immediately responding to each and every email you receive, take a minute to decide if it requires an immediate response or not--or if it requires any response at all. If the message is pointless or a waste of your time, then simply delete it unanswered.

4. Don't rely only on email

When it comes right down to it, email isn't always the best way to communicate with others in your organization. Sometimes making a phone call or simply walking down the hallway to communicate in person, one on one, works far better.

5. Unplug from long email exchanges

Just say no to those interminable email exchanges that just go on and on for no good reason. Again, it may be far better to get the other person on the phone, schedule a meeting, or make a personal, in-person visit.

6. Call out the jargon

Author Phil Simon suggests that you politely point out to others when you don't understand what jargon like "leveraging our current value-add use cases going forward to promote strategic alignments and synergies" even means. Call out the other party when they use terms like this, and suggest they get real.

Published on: Mar 13, 2015