5 Ways To Be A Better Communicator
Have you ever ended a week and wanted to curl up in bed and hide under your covers for the next five years because you’re dreading interacting with a single other person than you’ve already had to endure? Coming off a week of dealing with horrible communicators, I have compiled a list of ways to keep other people off my shit list. Soon after, realized these are just useful rules of thumb that everyone needs to apply. If even one person out there can start following some simple guidelines to be a better communicator, maybe we can all avoid being emotionally depleted and wanting to hide away from the world.
1) Actually Respond
This does not mean stay attached to your phone every minute of every day and constantly refresh your email. This means do your best to respond within the same business day or 12 hours. Use your best judgement and respond to some within the hour depending on the urgency. BUT PLEASE DO NOT take five days to respond and not even address the fact that you took so long to make the effort. It is almost less insulting if I think the email or text got lost in the interweb than to respond a week later as though you are actually getting back to me in an hour. It is a professional slap to the face that I am not enough of a priority to even make up an excuse. Just cut the crap and be direct. People will have more respect for you. Do not avoid sending messages out of some paralyzing social awkwardness or cowardice to reject someone. Grow up and respond.
2) Contact DURING Business Hours
Nothing has ever made me want to throw my phone into the ocean more than someone texting me about a business matter at 10pm. It is not appropriate. Unless it is an emergency, anything else of importance could have definitely waited until the morning hours of operation. I understand that some people in the entertainment industry etc do not lead typical business hours and therefore this may not always apply. However, I have found even without normal hours of operation, it remains the more professional route to take to wait until that 9am-5pm window as a courtesy.
3) If You Will Be Unreachable… Tell Someone
If you are going on a previously planned vacation or even a spontaneous weekend camping trip without cellphone reception, TELL SOMEONE. If there is anyone that may need to get ahold of you, professionally or personally, reach out to them first and let them know you will be unreachable for a few days and will be in contact as soon as you are back. If you’re not sure who will need you, set up an automated response on your email just in case! Nothing is worse than someone in your professional life thinking you are straight out ignoring them. Well maybe someone in your personal life thinking you have fallen off the face of the earth and died…
Just avoid all issues by covering your bases and communicating! Then when you are unreachable you can truly unplug and live stress-free knowing everyone will be attended to when you come back.
4) Follow Up.. Once
The professional act of “following up” after a meeting, interview, etc seems to have gotten a little out of hand lately. Sending one follow up email, one day later, and keeping it short and sweet IS appropriate. However, taking that much further and sending multiple messages, calling and leaving three voicemails is borderline harassment. Not only it is annoying, but leaves a bad taste in anyone’s mouth that you are trying to contact. It shows that you have no concept of boundaries and that behavior would only continue down the line.
5) Use Real Sentences
Nothing makes me roll my eyes faster, than receiving an email or text with horrible grammar. To be taken seriously in any capacity, it is important to think messages through before sending them. This doesn’t mean analyze one text for three hours before sending it. This means be mindful of your grammar, punctuation, and length of the message. Did you forget to capitalize names and abbreviate words? Did you send a giant paragraph for one simple thought? Did you send four questions in a row? Did you send an emotional response before calming down? Did you send five texts in a row to communicate one thought?
If you answered YES to any of these… STOP- rethink before you send! All of those tendencies are so annoying and unprofessional. Get your point across in a concise polite manner to actually be heard and not ignored.
Now go out into the world and communicate like a pro!