So much of our communication these days is written. When you are talking to another person you are able to use voice inflection, tone and body language to affect the meaning of the words you are using. Dialogue and discussion are led by all of these things working together to express a point, discuss a topic or argue a stance. But so much of this has been lost as we have moved to a primary language of written communication. We have evolved from a culture of verbal discussion to one of written discussions. Think about all of the topics that you deal with on a daily basis that are mostly or in some cases 100% discussed through writing. I worked for an amazing company for the last 6 years that had tenets to define their purpose. Communication was number 1. Do you know why? Because it is the most important part of a company, but it is also the most difficult. Silos, miscommunications, telephone games, crossed wires; they happen all the time in the workplace. It really is difficult some times to get your point across.
So when we think of our communication it is so important that we be purposeful and succinct. One of the ways that I do this is to always re-read my writing. Take out filler words that can muddy up my messaging and work hard to make good word choices.
I’ve learned that there are words that can be argumentative even when you did not intend for them to be. Do you want to know the main culprit? The word “just”. Did you ever think of that? Hmmm, is this word really necessary? One of the most overused words in my opinion. Tell me I’m wrong! I think I may have just blown your mind. This is one of those tricky little rascals that without my tone and voice inflections, can be taken very differently than intended.
So my recommendation, just don’t use the word just! Did you ever think of how your messages come across? Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you did not intend? The other person interpreted your messages and somehow the wires got crossed. It happens all the time! And words like “just” can oftentimes be the sabotaging words. Just can ALWAYS be read in a different tone. And 9 times out of 10 it is a negative tone. It truly is one of those words where you can actually see the hair toss moment. I was just asking you… x, y, and z. Guess what x, y, and z don’t matter anymore. All that matters is the imagined hair toss!
THERE ARE OTHER CULPRITS
There are other sabotaging words. Most lead-ins that you use at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize a point can be removed and the sentence is generally more clear and direct. They really are not necessary for business writing and since they can be misinterpreted so easily, it’s best to leave them out.
Things like, “Per our conversation”. Hmmm, that can ALWAYS be read bitchy! Um, you don’t think I remember our conversation? Ouch! Or things like; “To tell you the truth”. Wait, were you about to lie to me? I think you get the picture. You really can remove any lead-in and let the sentence stand on its own. Fewer words equal less room to be misinterpreted! Being clear and concise involves removing all of the obstacles. And with today’s increasing amount of writing in formats like text and slack, which are becoming the new norms in the office place, these lead-ins just muddy the water!
I can’t count how many times I found myself knee-deep in an argument and couldn’t imagine how I got there. I am sure there are a million husbands that can say the same, but that’s a whole other story! This is about being able to move fast and get a point across. I’m not really sure when or how I learned this lesson, but I can tell you I have been misinterpreted more times than I can count! So I realized if I removed some of the extra words, maybe there would be less confusion. There are also less words to read in a voice that is not your own. The reader gets to read it exactly how they are feeling that day. What if they are having a bad day? Well, in my experience, their bad day is now your bad day! And if I’m being honest….LOL! No, I am not lying to you, I am trying to be funny! Which I usually have to explain because it’s not something I am very good at! Anyway, my point was, I have been on the other side of this as well. I get an email and think, sheesh, you don’t have to be so x, y and z. See, here we go again.
TONE DETECTORS, WHO KNEW?
Whenever I get in a spot where I am questioning something, I hear my Dad say, “I bet there’s an app for that”. It’s funny, but I’m realizing it’s also true! And he really does have a million apps, again, another story for another time.
Well, there is an app for that. Who knew that Grammarly had a tone detector? I didn’t until recently. What a game-changer! And also confirms that this is a “real thing”. Figuring out how to get the proper tone across in your writing is more important than ever.
“Here’s how your text sounds!” WOW, I could have used that 20 years ago when I was writing emails and hitting send when I shouldn’t have! Oh, Coco! She really was a firecracker! (Still is, just learned some lessons along the way!)
CLEAR WATER AND SUNSHINE
No muddy waters over here! We need some clear water and sunshine baby! Happy Wednesday, Y’All! I hope you enjoyed lesson number 2! If you missed number 1, you can read it here https://hustlemomhustle.com/lesson-1-kill-them-with-kindness/. And stay tuned for lesson number 3! It’s a doozy!
And if anyone cares, I just really need my hair done! LOL! But that’s a whole other story as well! Stay safe out there and don’t use the word just in your writing! Be purposeful, my dears! Be purposeful!