3 crucial ingredients to effective workplace communication

Regardless of message or medium, think in terms of levity, brevity and longevity.


Communicating at work can be a confounding experience.

Simple messages are often misconstrued, taken out of context or just ignored. Communication is typically an afterthought—an anonymous offensive lineman who is essential to the team yet woefully overlooked. Half-hearted effort leads to half-baked results.

There’s no secret recipe for whipping up crystal-clear communication, but you might consider three factors when crafting a message at work—or anywhere else:

1. Levity

Corporate communication often sounds robotic, stilted and solemn. A stiff tone isn’t wrong, but you might be losing some people with stodgy wording. Don’t you typically bail upon sight of “synergy” or “innovation”? So do your readers.

The answer isn’t pivoting to snark or cracking jokes. That approach works for some, like Wendy’s, but attempts at corporate humor can backfire spectacularly.

It’s more a matter of warmth. Whenever possible, inject a measure of levity into your messages. Shoot for gregarious instead of grandiose—conversational as opposed to condescending.

Think in terms of people: Do you prefer hanging out with light-hearted, affable people or super-serious, high-strung, pompous types? In communication, you catch more flies (and eyes) with honey than with vinegar.

2. Brevity

There are, presumably, people out there who still love longform. Bless their hearts.

Most human beings prefer that you get straight to the point. Regardless of your message or medium, make it snappy.

If you hand a child a mango, they’ll probably just throw it at a sibling, but if you remove the skin and hand them slices of the meaty cheeks, they’re much more likely to consume it.

Remove excess and distribute the choicest cuts of your message. That’s how you get attention, gain credibility and get through to an audience.

3. Longevity

What’s in it for your readers? How will your message increase their knowledge or help them improve at work? What needs are you meeting for your audience?

Communications can contribute to your colleagues’ career longevity, so long as you write with them in mind. Whenever possible, craft helpful how-to pieces, checklists and other materials that answer relevant questions and help people do their jobs better.

Consider longevity, also, in terms of producing evergreen content. Write about timeless topics and enduring, substantive issues that aren’t going away. Instead of the Kardashians, maybe write about the wonders of Armenian culture? You get the idea.

May your communications live long and prosper—and help others do so, as well.

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