I was turned onto a site (PG-13) this week that made me laugh out loud. This site is about funny and embarrassing text messages sent out due to erroneous auto-corrections made on phones and computers these days. As funny as I found these messages to be, alot can be learned from them. Take your time when sending a message, think twice about your recipient/audience and most importantly, don’t say anything you didn’t mean to say.
With the advent of text-messaging and emails, so much can be left up for interpretation and even more can be left up to individual mood and preference. Email is a two-dimensional communication – there is not tone of voice, no body language, just words. This is unfortunate but it is our reality.
What might you be saying in your daily interactions that someone else is interpreting differently? What are you saying to your kids, your co-workers, your spouse? And more importantly, how is what you are writing being interpreted?
Did you know that approximately 2.8 million emails are sent every second and some 90 trillion emails are sent per year? Around 90% of these millions and trillions of messages are spam and viruses, but 294 billion messages per day are sent by around 1.9 billion email users each year. With that kind of email traffic, there are bound to be some mis- (missed/messed-up) communications.
I have had a few of my own spell-check funnies along the way for instance, Chrysty Fortner when spell-checked correctly, signs my name as “Crusty Fortune.” I found this out the hard way while asking for a six-figure sponsorship from a prospect! Just last week I started an email with “Yellow Lewis!” when asking for help with a non-profit business plan, apparently the incorrectly typed word Hellow (Hello) turns into “Yellow,” while I wasn’t looking–obviously not what I wanted to convey.
Aside from the spell-check incidents in my professional career, there have been other times where what I wanted to say was lost in translation or in one case, lost to ALL CAPS! As the Director of Marketing for a Medicare Insurance company, I used all caps in a message to my new sales team. It was my first day. I was excited to meet the staff and to let them know my excitement about the new Medicare Prescription plan that was to be unveiled in 2005. In my overzealousness to make a large first impression, I sent out
a communication to the Chicago, Houston, Birmingham and Nashville team with MAYBE a few too many CAPS and immediately I was criticized by the staff. I’m not an easily disliked person and I’ve never been hated by people I work with let alone a group of sales people I was hired to inspire! It was a disaster and the excitement and drive was lost by the skepticism created by my welcome email. What a disappointment for me and obviously to them. The point to all of this is to ask you the question, has WHAT you meant ever been lost by what you SAID or how you said it?”
There are many ways productive communication can break down to alienate your audience:
- using clichés
- using industry jargon
- using slang…
Here are my 10 tips for better communication:
1. DON’T USE CAPS, even if you’re REALLY, REALLY excited about emphasizing a point
2. Don’t use lingo, jargon or technical terms
3. Be yourself; and most importantly use your authenticity to speak/write with passion
4. Don’t beat around the bush (I know, it’s a cliché, but you get the point)
5. THINK before you speak and most importantly, listen before you speak
6. Be thoughtful; it’s not necessarily what you say but how you say it
7. Keep it short, sweet and to the point; use the carriage return (hard return between points)
8. Use your subject line as the most powerful (but short) lead-in
9. Give the recipient of your message a clear idea of what you’re expecting as a response
10. Remember, what you send can be stored in someone’s archives FOREVER, so don’t say anything you don’t want to come back and haunt you! And double check what you’re sending before you actually hit “Send.”
So from my silly spell-checker to yours, Yellow and Hoppy Moon day! Make the most of your day today and remember, mean what you say, say what you mean and maybe after reading this post you can avoid the pitfalls of communicationitis.
Yours truly, Crusty Fortune!