Gratuitous communication makes me nuts. What is "gratuitous communication"? Any form of business expression that conveys more than it needs to.
Let me give you an example. Recently, a friend asked me to meet his brother and give him guidance on a real estate deal he was working. I said OK and suggested the brother e-mail me to set up the meeting. Here's the e-mail I received:
"Hi Jim. Thanks for agreeing to meet with me. I will be hanging out at the beach on Wednesday, but open to meet on Thursday or Friday."
So I asked myself: "What is the point of telling me that you're spending the day at the beach on Wednesday?" It does not add anything. It might even bother some people sitting in their office on a bright, sunny day. It was just gratuitous.
I don't know what causes people to ramble - orally or in writing. I have been in many business meetings and negotiations when someone went on and on, way past what was needed and often to his/her detriment. I believe that any wording beyond what is needed can sometimes backfire.
It is not easy, but here are some my rules of business communication:
1. Reread before you hit 'send.'
2. Put several beats between when a thought arises in your head and when you articulate it.
3. Force yourself to slow down when you start to get excited. Mistakes can occur when you get angry, or even when you are excited in a good way.
4. When writing or speaking, keep asking yourself: What is the point of that word or phrase or sentence or paragraph? Does it serve a purpose? Or is it just taking up space?
Needless to say, I am not talking about personal or intimate communication, when all rules are off. (Or are they?)
Do you know who is credited with the expression "less is more"?
a) Thomas Jefferson, statesman
b) Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect
c) Henry Ford, capitalist
d) Steve Jobs, entrepreneur
e) Harriet Beecher Stowe, author
The answer in next week's post.