What's your favorite life hack? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Anna Pickard, Creative Director, Voice and Tone at Slack, on Quora:

I can think of a couple communication life hacks off the top of my head...

The first one is a pretty specific one, but it's my favorite. Every one of us has a different communication style. Accepting that and learning how to navigate styles different from your own is key. SO! For new managers -- and, in fact, for people I work with closely -- I wrote a one-page user manual for how I write. How I work. How I process information. Anna: A User's Guide.

It has been invaluable. Being able to say:

  • "I process information slowly. A briefing, resource materials, or an agenda provided well before meetings helps me."
  • "I am very direct. Sometimes too direct. Please always be direct with me, but let me know when my directness is unhelpful to others."
  • "I think better when I'm walking. If we can walk and talk, I'd like that!"

It's useful.

For another, I'd say -- and anyone who has every been to any kind of writing class will know this -- read what you're writing out loud. Not just, "read it back to yourself in your head", actually read it out loud. I know you'll feel silly, I know it's not comfortable, and sometimes it can really help to print it out first and grab a sharpie and take it somewhere really secluded, particularly when you're in an open office. But it's by far the fastest and easiest way to find things that will trip up your reader -- or things that sound or feel alien or robotic.

And lastly, whatever you write, before you post it anywhere ask yourself if it can be 40% shorter. Because it usually can. Remember that in order to get people to understand what it is you're trying to get them to understand (or what you want from them) you just need to get to the point. It's the courteous thing to do. And to do that you can usually very easily lose the first paragraph, if not more.

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Published on: Apr 16, 2018