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Your Colleagues Don't Read Anything You Write. Here Are 8 Ways to Change That.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/smarter-living/your-colleagues-dont-read-anything-you-write-here-are-8-ways-to-change-that.html

nytimes.com

Your Colleagues Don't Read Anything You Write. Here Are 8 Ways to Change That.
Long emails and dense, difficult to decipher memos mean modern office communication goes ignored more often than it's understood. For over a decade, I taught college students how to communicate in professional settings. Every class began with a single, all-consuming thesis: "Nobody will ever want to read anything you write at work.

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Too much noise, too little attention

Too much noise, too little attention

Nobody wants to read anything you write at work. It's not personal though. We just happen to live in a world where there is so much information asking for our attention.

We can take a...

107 SAVES


Write less often

Things that are rare and dwindling become more attractive and are perceived as more valuable. The less we write, the more valuable our writing becomes. 

Refrain...

104 SAVES


Fewer words

We long for clarity and for other people to say what they mean in as few words as possible.

Making wordy sentences that lose their fluency due to needless complexity in a text negativ...

96 SAVES


Action words in your subject line

Action words in your subject line

Tell your recipients from the start what you expect.

If they need to read and comment on it before a Tuesday afternoon meeting, instead of "Agenda for Tuesday," use "PLEASE COMMENT: Agen...

102 SAVES


"Listen" more

Communication is eighty percent listening and twenty percent talking.

In writing, ask clear, concise questions, so they know they'll be heard.

109 SAVES


Don’t answer, ask

When you discover problems, don't compose an email with a long explanation, opinion or instruction as this will make co-workers less inclined to take ownership.

Instead, use o...

127 SAVES


Lead with the need

Because most of us start rambling with our insecurities - don't try to write a final draft on the first try. Allow yourself a few first drafts, then flip it.

Take the final sentence, the con...

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People-proof TL;DR

Especially for memos, agendas, and group emails, add a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary.

Follow this formula: Who does what by when and how are we going to track progress. Wri...

68 SAVES


"You", "them", "we"

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask, “What’s in it for them?”

When we seek assistance or buy-in, asking for an opinion produces a critic. Asking for advice provides a pa...

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Kurt Vonnegut

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"Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing.

The “5 Ws + H” method

... for establishing what and how you will write:

  • Who: Who is my audience?
  • What: What do they need to know?
  • When: When does this apply, when did this happen, or when do they need to know it by?
  • Where: Where is this happening?
  • Why: Why do they need this information?
  • How: How should they use this information?

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Goal setting needs active participation

Your goals will not achieve themselves and will require your vigorous participation.

Unless you have goals, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ve already reached the pinnacle of yo...

6 Goal setting tips

  1. Write goals that align with your values. If your career goals aren’t supporting your life goals, you are bound to have a miserable existence.
  2. Set goals that you can control. Unless every aspect of the goal you set is under your control, you have very little likelihood of ever achieving it.
  3. Think big. Set your sights higher than most might believe practicable.
  4. Give yourself time. Start by visualizing where you want to end up in life, then the things you need to get there are pretty easy to plot out.
  5. Plan for success. Do not ask “What if I fail?” but rather “What if I succeed?”
  6. Manage your risks. Success will carry some measure of risk. Consider the risks and weigh them against the reward.

Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for...

Empty your inbox daily

  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.

Stop CC’ing everyone

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

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