Recently, I was approached for the Editor’s job with one of the leading national business magazines. Though overall the assignment sounded very exciting, due to a number of other factors I had to turn down the position. Maybe, the personality traits exhibited (including through e-communication) could be one of the factors.
At the interview, the owner of the publishing house and the CEO had handed out a couple of magazines to me for reference, asking me to return one of the magazines whenever I had gone through it. On the third day from the day of the interview I wrote to them to thank them (sending thank you notes after an interview is considered one of the finest interviewee attitudinal aspects; but more on that later) for their time, for the lovely meeting we had and to regret my availability for the position.
I got a reply from the CEO which I was shocked to go through. It had accusatory undertones. So what was really wrong with it? Let’s find out in the points listed below.
We all know that emails are the biggest aids, abettors and rescuers in business communication; so much so that we tend to use this vehicle even intra-departmentally. Regardless of what the health watchers will say, we still find it easier to tap on the keyboard and send mail than lifting ourselves even half up to confer over our cubicle walls.
Yet, in spite of the ease they bring to the way we communicate and conduct our business, we commit such glaring blunders that are nothing short of ‘communication crime.’ Here are a few to avoid, so as not to hang ourselves on the noose woven with threads of wrongful methods we adopt in our communication –
- Not sticking to facts (or not checking facts thoroughly)
It seems that we are in a tearing hurry to say our piece and hit the ‘send’ button. Goofing up on grammar and stumping ourselves with shoddy syntax is a minor issue. What is big is content that has not been checked to be factually correct, absolutely appropriate and relevant.
People from my line of trade – Public Relations – tend to, ironically, commit this one quite a bit, given our propensity to be verbose, beat around the bush and weave unnecessary tapestry around what we actually want to state.
In that CEO’s response to my thank you note, he kept asking for papers & presentations that he had not given to me in the first place. I do not know what led him to it – amnesia, too much workload, carelessness; but at one point I was so irritated by his constant asking that I had a good mind to ask him to review his CCTV tapes.
Whether it is because we have not read the initial request carefully or are against a sharp deadline or are loaded with a multitude of tasks; we still do not have an excuse to send information that is not meaningful and correct. Our text, many a times, tends to get fluffy and superficial intended to just fill up the body of the mail. Imagine the extent of disconcertment we put the receiver through by coming out as an indolent, incompetent individual.
With any mail that carries our signature at the end, the onus lies squarely on us to stick to the facts. No reason – real or imagined – is fit enough to cover our smudgy tracks.
- Assuming others can read our minds
This is a basic communication flaw in general and not just with e-communication. This is also the root cause of most misunderstandings between every conceivable equation on this planet.
Parents feel children just know what is expected of them and vice versa. Bosses are of the opinion that the subordinates will magically know everything they are supposed to without proper, systematic and clear channels of communication. Guests are indignant if the hotels ever use the IDK option. Conversely, hotels have lost several dollars in damages only because they felt that their guests knew about the policies and had patiently read through the very fine print of all T&C.
In e-communication, this assumption costs us dearly. Without the benefit of our presence, with no body language or tone and modulation of our voice to assist us we become sorely handicapped when we leave gaps in our communication. Our baseless presumption that the person in front is tuned in into our chain of thoughts causes a terrible logjam.
Communication gurus have defined 7 C’s of effective communication, viz. Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete, and Courteous. And at least four of these assert the significance of complete lucidity in your communication.