In Communicating At Work: Keep It Simple

Whether we’re talking about sales conversations, meetings, e-mails or other written messages, presentations or reports, when it comes to communicating at work, keep it simple.

One of the most common complaints in today’s workplace is lack of communication. This problem arises in many ways: poor meeting skills resulting in frustration and annoyance; poor writing skills resulting in long, rambling e-mail messages and reports that waste the time of both writer and reader; sales pitches that fail because the salesperson doesn’t listen to what the client is saying; boring, unhelpful presentations that waste everyone’s time and convey little information.

But an underlying problem in all of these situations is that we tend to cloak all our messages in language that obscures our meaning. It might be technical jargon we use inappropriately for people who shouldn’t be expected to understand it, or it could be just longwinded, complicated explanations that are hard to follow. In either case, the result is that the message is lost.

So what’s the answer? Keep it simple! In the workplace, where communication is essential, you’ll never go wrong by tending towards simple explanations. In fact, the more complex the subject, the more important it is that you express your message in simple terms.

Have you ever bought something that used technology with which you were unfamiliar? Maybe it was a kitchen gadget, a complicated camera, a musical instrument or your first introduction to a new hobby. Think about the buying process you went through. Did the sales person take the trouble to explain things in simple language you could understand, or did he or she babble on in some unintelligible words and expressions that left you baffled and frustrated? Chances are that the approach the person took had an effect on whether or not you bought.

Think about the type of information you must convey to others at work in the course of your own job. Are you making your message clear and simple? Consider your jargon and the language you typically use, and see if you can come up with simpler ways of explaining things. Then make a practice of using them — your colleagues and clients will thank you!

If you’d like to see the value of simple explanations of the complex, visit the children’s section of your local bookshop or library and look for books on outer space or other highly complex subjects. Interestingly, even though these books are written for children, their simple explanations will not insult your adult intelligence, and you may well find you’ve learned something new by reading them.

So remember, for the most effective workplace communication, keep it simple!