How well do you communicate?

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” –Robert McCloskey

Effective communication is an essential skill for anyone in business. I am always amazed when I receive emails with requests that are not clearly defined and somehow I feel like the idiot when I am asking for clarification.

I read the message over and over and over, but sometimes I just have no clue what the writer is asking. I know they did not intentionally provide confusing information. However some people make the assumption when they are communicating that you are completely in tune with their thought process.

People in technology are the worst in this category. Somehow there is the assumption that the audience for their message is as fluent about the subject as they are. If they were, then why would you provide any information at all? Typical tutorials in the tech sector follow this pattern.

  • Step A – Start
  • Step B through X glossed over because they assume you know this already
  • Step Y – Our amazing new step
  • Step Z – Confusion

How to be an effective communicator

First and foremost, read. Read a lot. Nothing improves your communication skills more than getting a better understanding of our language. Fortunately for us, many authors are excellent at communicating thoughts, moods, feelings and environments. The second hand benefit of this is that you absorb some of these skills as well.

Secondly, read what you type. We have all done this. You type an email to someone and then realize later that your message reads like a 3 year old trying to grasp basic language skills. Before you hit that send button, take a break. Walk away from the email and come back and read it. I am certain there are very few emails that are so essential they could not wait another few minutes before sending.

Do you talk or text?

My wife and I argue about this all the time. I hate talking on the phone. I am much happier sending a brief text message that communicates everything I need to say.

Keeping with that motto, that is the end of this blog post.

Texting Infographic

Spam, spam, spam, spam, email, spam, spam and spam!

To borrow one of the great Monty Python lines, today we are going to talk about email and spam.  In light of the recent email theft at Epsilon, the big email marketing firm, I thought I would revisit my thoughts on email and spam.


First off, if you have not heard yet, Epsilon, a very large email marketing firm had been hacked last week.  So if you use a bank, shop, sleep or eat, chances are your email address was in Epsilon’s database and was compromised.  So make sure if you receive an email from one of your trusted vendors that any link from that email takes you to an actual website of their own.

Now back to spam.

Spam filters are wonderful things, even if they prevent me from viewing all the male organ enlargement pills that might be available to me.  However spam filters are not perfect and sometimes they send the wrong messages to the junk pile.


Last fall I was attempting to look at the website of a friend of a friend.  I say attempting because the site was not viewable.  As a web designer and all around geek, I poked around to find out what the problem was.  I figured it out and determined that the problem could be easily fixed with a simple code edit.  I emailed the site owner, introducing myself as a friend of their friend, and told them about the problem.  I offered to fix the problem free of charge as a courtesy to my friend.  After all, I knew what the problem was and determined it would take a whole 30 seconds to fix if I stopped for a coffee break.


I mentioned my email contact to my friend so that he would be aware if an inquiry about me arose.  A week went by, I heard nothing.  Another week, still no response.  At the end of week three, I asked my friend if his friend ever contacted him about my email.  ”Nope!”


Checking the website, it was still broken.  I forwarded my original email to my friend and he forwarded it to his friend.  Finally I get a response.  They apologized and said that my email went to their junk filter.  No big deal, but how often were you checking your website?  Did you know it was not visible?


I only mention this because the website was attempting to market more than $6.5 million dollars in real estate and no one could see it!  If I have that kind of inventory, I am not only checking it regularly, I want to see who came to my site, from where, and what they looked at.


More recently I met a wonderful executive at a high technology company.  After their product demonstration, which was impressive, I mentioned that I had executive contacts at a couple businesses that might find their product useful.  My attempt to follow up with them to provide the contact information and introduction went unanswered.  I can only assume that my email is getting funneled to their junk mail box.


I check my junk mail box regularly and find stuff that probably should not be there.


Go ahead and check yours.  You may find a customer lurking in there or maybe someone who can help your business.