The last time your inbox boasted zero messages was 1994

January 24, 2017

 

Your emails are too long, and your messages suffocate under layers of superfluous text.

 

Most people shrink away from delivering this advice, but I seek to amplify the effectiveness of your written communications, even at the cost of hurting your feelings. Your ego will heal as your writing improves – I promise.

 

To start, let’s explore the state of the world in 2017:

  1. Society suffers an overwhelming amount of information, and an underwhelming supply of meaningful communication

  2. The last time your inbox boasted zero messages was 1994

  3. People don’t respond to your beautiful emails as fast or effectively as you wish

 

If any of these statements resonates with you, I implore you to consider the following (because you are likely causing all these things to be true for someone else).

 

Would you just please stop using these words?

 

The word “would” is conditional, so only use it if it is qualified by a condition. Said differently and exemplified, I would never use the word “would” unless the statement offers another alternative that warrants its use. Using the word “would” makes sense if there is a condition upon which a happening hinges.

 

Instead, simply say what you have to say.

 

As an example, replace this: “I would recommend that you hold the meeting in London.”

 

With this: “I recommend holding the meeting in London.”

 

It’s briefer and more confident, stronger and more effective.

 

“Just” is the other word to strike. It weakens your written communiqués in nearly every instance.

 

Please stop using these words.

 

If words were divided like food groups, verbs would be vegetables.

 

Eat more leafy greens; choose stronger verbs.

 

Well- and oft-chosen verbs increase the precision, deepen the texture, and sharpen the memorability of the written word.

 

Additionally, find ways to replace all variations of the verb “to be.” It commonly appears in disguise as is, are, and were. Verbs are to your writing what leafy greens are to your diet. But they taste better.

 

The world’s blood pressure upheaves over a 140-character tweet from Donald Trump. He is a very effective communicator.

 

Why? Because Mr. Trump writes unambiguously.

 

You may or may not like what he says, but – read this slowly, and read it twice – it behooves you to learn from his brilliant use of uncomplicated language.

 

While readers’ reactions to his tweets span a broad emotional spectrum, no one scratches his temple in confusion wondering what Mr. Trump means.

 

Use your ink to cause readers to learn something new, adopt a perspective, or take action. If you find this challenging, revisit why you are writing.

 

Meaningful conversations and experiences form relationships, words merely serve relationships.

 

Slow down. Breathe. Look your colleague in the eye, or pick up the phone and familiarize yourself with the tone of her voice and ring of her laughter. Root yourself in relationships and the purpose for which you engage in them. Then write.

 

Words are powerful. Relationships are more powerful.

 

Brigette,  LinkedInTwitter.

 

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