How to Be Efficient, Effective, & Considerate Communicators

We live in a busy world. People have so many things going on all the time. If we can learn to communicate efficiently, then we will have more time for play, if we can learn to communicate effectively, then we will have less frivolous and confusing banter going back and forth, and if we can learn to communicate considerately, then we will have less conflict (and less dirty emotions) to clean up later on. Here are a few situations in which this might happen, and how we might remedy the communication:

Give potential options
Scenario: “I would like to schedule a hair cut appointment” 

The problem: When my hairstylist receives this message, likely, he/she will respond back and say, “Ok, what about Tuesday at 1:30? I have an opening!”, to which (if that doesn’t work with my schedule, I respond and say, “I’m working at that time, but what about Saturday?”, to which he/she might say, “I’m booked on Saturday, but what about next week?”, and then we have to go back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, trying to coordinate each other’s very busy schedules.

The solution: When I send my initial message, I should give my hairstylist two or three options of times that I’m available. I might say, “I would like to schedule a hair cut appointment. I’m free Monday from 1-5 PM or Friday from 8-11 AM!” That way, my hair stylist can look in his/her schedule, match up my free times with his/her free times, and can shoot me back a message, “How about Friday at 10:30?” Thus, we can eliminate the back and forth banter and the impossible task of trying to accommodate for everyone’s very busy and limited schedules.

Give as many details as possible in your initial inquiry
Scenario: I’m trying to plan my significant other’s birthday party

The problem: If I were an event planner, this kind of message would drive me crazy because it is very ambiguous; how old is your significant other turning? how much money do you have available to spend? when you would like the birthday party? for how long? how many people do you anticipate? is this a surprise? will there be clowns and balloon makers involved? are they arriving by horse carriage?

The solution: If you give as many details as possible in your initial inquiry, then the event planner (or whomever is reading the e-mail) can cater their response to your needs. You might, instead, write, “I’m planning my boyfriend 29th birthday. We were looking at October 12th or October 18th, in the evening, and are expecting approximately 35 people. Does your venue have the capability to do karaoke?”

State when you plan to respond back
Scenario: ……. (because you are waiting for someone else’s response)

The problem: We’ve all been in a situation before where we are waiting to hear back from someone else in order to finalize our own plans or own course of action and it’s often frustrating when we spend hours and hours, days and days, awaiting their response. Of course, on the other end, it’s likely that they haven’t forgotten about us (thanks to the new G-Mail feature, e-mails that haven’t yet been responded to get brought to the top of the inbox!), but perhaps they are waiting for other communication or information to come through before responding to us.

The solution: The easy solution here is to (A) acknowledge they are waiting for your response, (B) potentially let them know what you are waiting for, and (C) let them know when you intend to give an answer. “Thank you so much for your e-mail! I’m delighted to hear that you are interested in accepting my invitation. Right now, I am just finalizing some details and should give you a response by Monday.” This way, people don’t feel rejected or forgotten about, and can make their plans accordingly.

Clarify your pronouns:
Scenario: “Did your sister hear from Jamie? Mary was just asking if she RSVP’d yet”. 

The problem: If I send the vague response, “Yes she did!”, the “she” could mean one of two things–it could mean that (A) my sister did hear from Jamie, or (B) Mary did RSVP. This could cause confusion. In order to resolve this situation, I will have to ask a follow up question: did she hear from Jamie? Or did Mary RSVP? Or did my sister hear from Jamie and Mary also RSVP’d? (to which, then the responder must answer that second question).

The solution: Instead, to be an effective and efficient communicator, I could respond: “Yes my sister did hear from Jamie!”, or, “No Mary has not RSVP’d yet”, or, “Yes, she did hear from Jamie and yes, Mary did RSVP”. By identifying my pronouns (my sister, Jamie, or Mary), I can clear up a step (or two or three) in our communication.

Reject an invitation with an offer
Scenario: “We can’t come over tonight” 

The problem: We live in a world where everyone has five billion things going on every day. Especially as we begin to pair off with significant others, we have work responsibilities, family obligations, our friends are getting married, there are birthdays to attend, trainings to do, and don’t forget the everyday life functions, such as eat, sleep, and bathing. So certainly, we will encounter situations in which we receive three invitations during the same time frame, and since we cannot be super heroes and teleport, we have to reject some of them. But, when we send the message, “I can’t” without any context, it might leave the invitee feeling rejected, insignificant, unimportant, etc.

The solution: Rather than out right rejecting the invitation (because that seems harsh and insensitive), we might offer an alternative–“We can’t come over tonight, but would you be interested in doing dinner tomorrow night?” By sending this message, we are letting the invitee know that is not THEM that we necessarily rejecting, but rather our schedule and circumstances cannot fit the invitation, and by offering an alternative, we are still letting the invitee know that they are valuable to us.

(or, you can just send money in place of your absence, because money fixes everything, right?)

Photo Credit: Deadline.Com

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