While trying to come up with the title of this post, I wondered if I should limit it to business communications, since this is a business blog. I decided that it didn’t matter who it was geared toward because communications is a problem we all have with each other, business or not.

Listen to your kids
Bindaas Madhavi via Compfight

I like to think I’m as good a communicator as the next person. However, I find that, at least through blogs, people don’t always understand what I’m saying, or they’re not reading all that I’m saying so they get it wrong. I actually wrote a post about it on my other blog titled Why Don’t People Read, where I lament that a very short message I have on a third blog telling people how to contact me is always ignored, such that people see my email address but don’t follow the rule, as there’s only one, and I’ve even highlighted it for them.

This pretty much means that all of us can only be as good of communicators as the audience we’re reaching out to and their interest in seeing what it is we have to say. Still, there are steps one can take to try to get someone to pay more attention. One of these is going to be controversial, but I’ll explain it; on to the 5 tips:

1. Make most of your paragraphs relatively short. I will tend to have some long paragraphs, but most of the paragraphs I write are 5 sentences or less. There’s this thing about white space that, for whatever reason, makes people think there are fewer words than there might actually be.

2. Make sure people understand your terminology as well as possible. If I’m writing about medical coding and I use “ICD-9”, many people will have no idea what that is. However, if I say “procedure coding” that makes more sense to the masses people people pretty much know what a procedure is.

3. Every once in awhile throw in a large word.
This is the controversial one, because many people that talk about communications will say to keep the language simple. I’ve found that occasionally when I throw in a large word people will stop, they’ll think, and even if they’re not sure what that word means they’ll read everything else to try to figure out what it means. This stops what, in another industry, we call “banner blindness.”

4. Grammar, punctuation, etc. I know that every once in awhile I skip a word because it’s in my head and I can think faster than I can type, though I can type fairly fast. I’ve never gotten my punctuation incorrect, though. If your language doesn’t make sense people won’t listen to you. If you don’t build in punctuation people don’t take time to breathe, which makes them tired. And if you forget to capitalize certain words… well, you know.

5. Spelling. Come on, most word processing programs and all browsers at this point have spell checking, and it’s live most of the time. Look for those squiggly lines and take a moment to fix those words. Give people a chance to know what you’re talking about if the word is supposed to be “excerpts” instead of “eggsurpz”. Although, to be truthful, most people would probably stop on the second one, think about it, laugh, and maybe you’ll capture them that way. Nah! 🙂

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