As managers and recruiters, we hear the constant refrain of over-communicate versus under-communicate. But how much communication is too much?
This particular quandary is a very personal one for me … I’m an over-communicator by nature and putting my thoughts into few enough words that people will actually listen or read is a constant struggle. As I’m sure my fellow over-communicators can also attest, there is nothing more frustrating than putting together a carefully crafted email with all necessary information, only to have the recipients come back with a litany of questions that are all answered in the email itself.
So, fellow wordy compatriots, what can we do about this?
While these aren’t completely foolproof, some tips that I have found to be helpful are:
Be thoughtful with your formatting. Bold, italics, and ALL CAPS can be useful, especially if you have a long document. Use them to draw attention to key points. Ask yourself, “If they only read one section of this, which section do I want it to be?” And then make that part stand out.
Edit, edit, edit. This will get easier with time and, at first, is downright painful. But you’ll be surprised how a few simple edits (taking out superfluous words, removing sentences/paragraphs that don’t actually add anything) can cut your document in half and make it twice as readable.
Set expectations and deadlines - but make sure they’re always relevant. If every email requests a response immediately, then “immediately” begins to lose meaning. Begin your documents by giving a realistic timeframe in regard to expected responses and also let your readers know what you want from them, whether that’s a quick skim and basic feedback or detailed analysis of section 5B.
Thanks for reading … hopefully I took my own advice and you made it to the end. :)