All Communication Should Be _________

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One of my favorite things to do at work is to help a brand determine what they want to say to people and how they want to say it. Hours and hours go into developing a style guide, and the end result is often a pretty robust document that outlines everything… from how to use more inclusive language to the oxford comma.

These rules are important. When organizations don’t develop these plans, or when they don’t adhere to them, trouble starts.

If these rules are so important to companies and public figures, why shouldn’t they be important to our daily lives? After all, we all pretty much have access to some public platform these days.

Maybe we won't all develop our own style guide, but we can at least have a few simple rules to make sure we follow before pressing send.

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All communication should be honest.

That’s a good place to start, huh? I don’t think I need to go into much depth to explain why deliberate lying is unethical, but there’s more to honesty than being factually correct.

Honest communication also means speaking without pretenses. You know how annoying it is to hear that automated calling system tell you that your call is very important to them? Or how insincere it feels when a company hides behind technical jargon? Communicate like your authentic self.

This isn’t a green light to overshare, or to say terrible things in the name of “honesty.” But it is a call to delete any messages in which you’re pretending to be somebody that you aren’t.

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All communication should be helpful.

People are inundated with messages. If you aren’t offering them help in some way, prepare to be lost in a sea of noise. 

The messages we send to others can be “helpful” in so many ways. A personal story can be inspiring. A series of tips can be practical. A new bit of information can raise epiphanies. Heck, a good joke on Twitter can help salvage the mood after a series of political rants.

Making sure your messages at least have the potential to be helpful will filter out the meaningless rants and self-focused tendencies of our era. What I’ve seen from bloggers, writers, artists, directors, and any kind of storytellers is this: the best ones are the ones who are relentlessly helpful.

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All communication should be clear.

This has been an area I’ve had to work on a lot over the years. I love words. Lots and lots of descriptive words. Flowery languages. All that beautiful, elegant prose that runneth over like the sloppy shoreline of the Dalmatian Coast.

The tendency of a lot of under-experienced writers and other communicators is to love their words too much. The important part of what they have to say gets lost amongst all the extra sentences.

I’ve seen my words become a lot more effective ever since I’ve made a priority out of clarity. If the things you have to say can genuinely help the world, I’d want the same for you.

Philippe Lazaroblog, blog18