Clarity in Communication


Conveying the correct message is crucial in the business world.  When communicating with clients, a flawed message can mean a lost sale or a lost business relationship.  When communicating internally, an improper message can lead to angry or confused employees, strained relationships, or a misalignment of goals.

Google recently dealt with the backlash of a misinterpreted April fool’s joke that put some companies’ business relationships in jeopardy. They added a feature in G-Mail that attached a .GIF of a minion dropping a microphone to outgoing emails and prevented the email recipient from replying. Business professionals that accidentally clicked on this feature may have unintentionally sent the .GIF to potential or existing clients.  Unfortunately, not everyone got the joke and a handful of companies lost clients, received complaints, or damaged their reputations. Several job seekers claimed that they lost potential interview opportunities because they accidentally sent the minion .GIF to a company’s HR department. Google later apologized for the April fool’s joke, saying, “Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry.”


Clarity is one of the keys to company success.  Communication clarity keeps employees or clients on the same page and moving in the right direction.  It means that the message you sent has been interpreted in the way you intended it to be.  Many problems in business stem from a lack of clarity.  Poor communication can cause missed deadlines, misguided actions, or misinterpreted intentions.  Something as simple as having a fellow employee proofread an important email can eliminate a costly mistake.  Eliminating vague words such as “soon,” “a lot,” and “many” can help strengthen the message and make the message clearer.

In cross-cultural communication message clarity is very important.  Slang terms and non-verbal gestures are not understood the same way by different cultural groups.  Conducting proper research of cultural customs and communication decorum can help appropriately convey the message.

Communication Delivery Method

Different types of messages call for specific forms of communication.  A communication method that is appropriate for one scenario may not be appropriate for all scenarios.  For example: an employee who is going to be laid off would not want to find out through email.  They deserve a face-to-face delivery of the message.  In such a sensitive and emotion-laden scenario, an email is a much too cold communication method. Additionally, the employee who is being laid off deserves the opportunity to ask questions about the company’s decision and get a direct, in-person response.

On the flip side, sending an email is appropriate if you are announcing a company meeting, contacting an existing client about a routine matter, or sending information to a co-worker.  These types of messages are informative and routine, and a personal touch is not necessary.

Falling somewhere in the middle of a face-to-face meeting and an email message is communication over the phone. Phone conversations are more personal than emails and allow the other party to ask clarifying questions immediately. It’s a good idea to speak with new or potential clients over the phone so that they can’t misinterpret the tone of what you’re saying. A lot can be lost in a written message; for example, it’s difficult to convey sarcasm (which could create problems!).

One of the newer forms of office communication that is increasing in popularity is team messaging. Apps, such as Slack, allow workplace teams to communicate through a secure channel. You can communicate with the entire team, create private messaging groups, or send direct messages. Slack is a useful way to cut down on simple emails that require a short reply. It is, however, meant to be a way to casually communicate between co-workers. If you have an important message to send, or if you need to communicate with someone outside of your workplace walls, it’s better to use email or pick up the phone.

Tailoring your delivery method to best fit each scenario will result in more effective communication in the workplace. Practicing clear, appropriate communication will help build a positive reputation for yourself and your company.


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