Want to Communicate Better? Then Shut the Heck Up!

quiet-please-2012-350x260Do you ever bore yourself with your own stories? Can’t remember what it sounds like to hear laughter after you tell a joke? Are you sick and tired of the glazed look in the eyes of your friends and loved ones when you talk? If you answered, “yes,” to any of these questions, then I’d like to cordially invite you to join us for a session at the Institute for Communication Interventions. Because let’s be honest, you need help.

Just kidding. That’s not really a thing, The Institute for Communication Intervention. But, perhaps it should be? For those of us (I’m included here) who have plenty of great things to say but just have trouble doing so in a succinct manner sometimes, a little coursework in efficient communicating might be just the ticket. I can see the freshman syllabus now …

1) The Economical Communicator: The Value of “Less is More” Communication 

2) Speech Brevity 101: How to Know When To Stop

3) The Rabbit Trail: When to Steer Clear

4) Rambling and YOU: How to Wrap it Up

As a writer, it may come as no big shocker that I love words. On a daily basis, it is my job to figure out the best combination of words to achieve my ultimate goal: communicating a message. However, sometimes when I take my eye off the prize and get lost in my own wordy affections, I completely miss the forest because I’m overdoing it with the trees. By trees, I mean words.

When it comes to effective communication, less is so often more (filibusterers, professional orators, and Tolstoy need not apply). Why use 100 words when 10 will do just fine? The customer service industry, with its person-to-person, direct communication scenarios, is a fantastic example of when saying too much can get you in trouble and compromise your end game (serving the customer so you can move on to the next one).

Now, it might be prudent to note that the entire genesis of this post came from a recent call I had with a customer service professional during which I found the conversation drifting farther and farther away from the purpose of my call … like a lost little boat at sea. What began as a simple call to order a part for a kitchen appliance wound up being a 10-minute conversation with the rep about her favorite places to eat when vacationing in Saugatuck, MI.

What. The. Heck. Was the conversation pleasant? Yes. Was it helpful? Sure, I guess. But it made me not want to call back like, ever, and it took MUCH longer than necessary and made this rep seem unprofessional and therefore, made the company seem that way as well.

The point here is that people are busy. If you really want to help them – really serve the customer – then adhering to the “less is more” philosophy of communication is your best bet. Stick to what matters and keep your eye on the prize. Mark Twain so wisely said, “If I had more time I would have written less.” I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this idea also applies to verbal communication. So, save your dining preferences for your next cocktail party would ya? Your customers will thank you for it.


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