Gone are the days of handwritten and hand-delivered letters, communiques, and invitations. We now have myriad apps that support with planning an event, counting that event down, and doing everything from sending out reminders to giving guests on-point directions. Not to mention the DM apps we spend most of our waking hours on…
Apps make life convenient. They are tools that aid organisation and which should, in theory, make communication better. Why can we not use them properly? That’s not to say that there aren’t bad apps. However, you cannot blame an app for your communication failures.
Basic etiquette extends across all forms of communication, and minding your p’s and q’s is just as important in written communication as it is in verbal.
Let’s look at the biggest faux pas. Avoid or rectify these:
- Responding without editing.
Next time you’re about to hit send, read your message. Then ask yourself: If I received this, would I understand it? If it’s a no, fix it. Empathy for the recipient maintains and improves all relationships.
- Not paying attention to language level and word choice.
While you’re editing your message, make sure your choice of words is unambiguous—especially if you are corresponding with someone who is not a first-language speaker. Consider your recipient by simplifying your language and using brief sentences.
- Having no sense of the occasion.
Do you have a colleague or family member who is continually making inappropriate remarks and jokes? Some of us may do that without realising it in our written communication. Before you respond to anyone, pause and ask yourself the following questions: Is my language contextually and reader appropriate? Can I really send this message to my boss or manager, or is it more geared toward a conversation with a friend?
- Not being specific enough.
Let’s say you have to provide directions to a wedding or conference venue. Would you be able to make sense of them? Would you arrive there on time?
If you’ve provided the venue’s contact details, GPS coordinates, and a Google maps link–good for you! I’m not saying you have to haul out a printed map (because where would you find one of those?), your compass, ball of string, and protractor, and then explain how to get the venue in step-by-step fashion, but you need to be clear in your communication. Give people options and offer to clear up any misunderstandings.
- Being obnoxious.
As tempting as it is to say things like: “Isn’t it obvious?!” or to add a string of emojis for sarcastic effect, don’t. Be courteous in your communication with everyone (there are some exceptions, I’ll concede), but politeness is a good rule of thumb and practice to adopt.
And remember, if you need support with communicating more effectively, you’re in luck! I facilitate training workshops and consult on language-related issues.