Brevity, Clarity and Context
I’ll be brief, naturally.
A couple days ago I received a phone call from a colleague. Specifically, it manifested itself as a voice mail. The message was long. It was filled with details; plenty of which were unnecessary and distracting from the core ideas being communicated.
I’m not the voice / phone person I used to be. I believe this is true of more and more people, and probably most people at this point. To be clear, I just don’t expect War & Peace via a voice mail. Does anyone?
In any case, I confess, I didn’t listen as closely as I should have and botched a minor detail or two. Yes, I was upset with me. I should have known better. It’s not the first time the sender has TMI’ed someone.
That said, my colleague could have done better as well. We all could do better when it comes to be brevity, clarity and context.
The message could have made better use of brevity. It could have focused on clarity—the necessary highlights for the medium (i.e., voice mail). Finally, it could have probably had some consideration for the context of the receiver (i.e., me). Even a short follow up text message (e.g., “i left a long voice msg, u might want to have pen and paper ready. call me later pls” ) would have been a big help.
Communication isn’t just words or ideas. It requires a mindful sender, as well as a ready, willing and able receiver.
The bottom line…In the words of Frank Luntz (from his book “Words That Work”): “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.”