The Pragmatic Philosophy(V)

6. Communicate!

Know What You Want to Say

Plan what you want to say. Write an outline. Then ask yourself, “Does this get across whatever I’m trying to say?” Refine it until it does.

Know Your Audience

You’re communicating only if you’re conveying information. To do that, you need to understand the needs, interests, and capabilities of your audience.

Form a string mental picture of your audience. The acrostic WISDOM, show below, may help.

What do you want them to learn?

What is their interest in what you’ve got to say?

How sophisticated are they?

How much detail do they want?

Whom do you want to own the information?

How can you motivate them to listen to you?

Choose Your Moment

As part of understanding what your audience needs to hear, you need to work out what their priorities are. Make what you’re saying relevant in time, as well as in content. Sometimes all it takes is the simple question “Is this a good time to talk about…?”

Choose a Style

Adjust the style of your delivery to suit your audience. Some people want a formal “just the facts” briefing. Others like a long, wide-ranging chat before getting down to business. When it comes to written documents, some like to receive large bound reports, while others expect a simple memo or e-mail. If in doubt, ask. Remember, that kind of feedback is a form of communication, too.

Make it Look Good

Your ideas are important. They deserve a good-looking vehicle to convey them to your audience.

Involve Your Audience

We often find that the documents we produced end up being less important than the process we go through to produce them. If possible, involve your readers with early drafts of your document. Get their feedback, and pick their brains. You’ll build a good working relationship, and you’ll probably produce a better document in the process.

Be a Listener

There’s one technique that you must use if you want people to listen to you: listen to them.-if you don’t listen to them, they won’t listen to you.

Encourage people to talk by asking questions, or have them summarize what you tell them. Turn the meeting into a dialog, and you’ll make your point more effectively. Who knows, you might even learn something.

Get Back to People

If you ask someone a question, you feel they’re impolite if they don’t respond. But how often do you fail to get back to people when they send you an e-mail or a memo asking for information or requesting some action? Always respond to e-mails and voice mails, even if the response is simply “I’ll get back to you later.” Keeping people informed makes them far more forgiving of the occasional slip, and makes them feel that you haven’t forgotten them.

Tip 10

It’s Both What You Say and the Way You say It

E-Mail Communication Tips

  • Proofread before you hit SEND
  • Check the spelling
  • Keep the format simple.
  • Use rich-text or HTML formatted mail only if you know that all your recipients can read it. Plain text is universal.
  • Try to keep quoting to a minimum. No one likes to receive bakc their own 100-line e-mail with “I agree” tacked on.
  • If you’re quoting other people’s e-mail, be sure to attribute it, and quote it inline(rather than as an attachment).
  • Don’t flame unless you want it to come back and haunt you later.
  • Check your list of recipients before sending.


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