Communication is an integral part of our professional interactions.
But unfortunately, communication is something that is very easy to mess up. And the worst part is it is very difficult to see what exactly went wrong with the way we communicated: what we say makes perfect sense to us.
The 7 Cs come in handy here. Putting our intended message through these tests is a great way to ensure the message is as well articulated as possible. Be it emails, phone calls, text messages or letters, putting a message through these criteria can make our professional interpersonal interactions much less prone to misunderstandings.
Let us first take a look at the 7 Cs themselves. A message should be: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, courteous. Additionally, it should also be considerate, and credible.
Sounds too obvious? Let us see how things can go wrong if these seemingly basic “filters” aren’t applied.
A clear message conveys a specific goal and purpose. Its meaning is well-understood. After reading/listening to it, we know why was it sent to us in the first place. It is not ambiguous.
A: I would like to talk to you about the meeting.
B: I would be glad to discuss with you about the client meeting that took place on the 23rd. Let me know when is a good time to call.
Doesn’t B sound much clearer about the sender’s intentions?
A concise message is brief and to the point. There are no unnecessary digressions. There are no unnecessary repetitions. If it can be conveyed in four sentences, it should not extend to ten sentences.
A: I received your email and I must say it was very pleasant to receive your email. As you mentioned in the email, I will send in the necessary details but there’s just one doubt as to what is the day I should keep in mind as the last day to send the mail.
B: Glad to receive your mail. I will send in the necessary details. Is there a deadline I should keep in mind?
A has a lot of repetition, with circular communication. B on the other hand packs in information in just a few sentences.
A concrete message has details and facts necessary to substantiate the message. It does not include empty, generic or rhetorical statements.
A: There was a lot of productive discussion at the meeting. It went well.
B: The meeting saw a lot of discussion pertaining to the pending IT upgrades. A decision has been made to upgrade all the computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
B gives a reason why the meeting was productive. A just makes a passing remark.
Correctness doesn’t just mean the truth value of facts and details, but also the grammatical structure and syntax of the message. And not to forget proper, readable fonts if it’s a written one. It is a great idea to proofread any written message before sending it in. A correct message also uses appropriate language, and is not wrongly timed.
A: Hello guys, we are having an amazing Christmas party next week. Looking forward to you presences. Detailing will be sent soon.
We cordially invite you to the annual Christmas party. We look forward to your presence. The details shall be sent soon.
A not only uses a very informal, and hence inappropriate language, it also has errors, “you presences” instead of “your presence”; “detailing” instead of “details”. B has a balance of formal and festive. Note how spellcheckers are blind to such errors as in A.
A coherent message maintains direction of the topic and doesn’t turn into a rambling. Much like the clarity aspect, it successfully conveys the purpose of the message.
A: Mr. X from the Accounting department wanted to talk to you about some particulars you had submitted the other day. I don’t know if there is a problem, there is certainly a doubt. He hasn’t talked about that , I am not sure how urgent this is.
B: Kindly get in touch with Mr. X from the Accounting department as soon as possible. There seems to be a doubt pertaining to the particulars you have submitted.
It is important to include all the necessary details like date, time, location, names, etc. in accordance to the message. The receiver should feel informed, not confused.
A: Ready for the meeting tomorrow?
B: This mail is a reminder for the meeting scheduled tomorrow, i.e. 10th January 2019, in the conference room, at 11 am.
A just throws in a random statement. Just a general reminder isn’t enough, one must provide the specific details.
A courteous message is honest and civil, treating the receiver as a sensible human being– not talking down in any way. One should be careful it doesn’t have a passive aggressive tone, even while expressing some sort of a disapproval or negative feedback.
A: I have been mailing you repeatedly to send me the details of the company but I think you have other much more important things going on.
B: Apologies for the repeated mails. I wanted to remind you to send me the details of the company as soon as possible.
Isn’t A much more likely to make someone feel like they have done something terribly wrong?
Be it online or offline communication, it is important to remember that we can’t read each other’s minds, and it is important to be a an empathetic sender and a perceptive receiver.