Was in the middle of an email correspondance today about 3 transitions deep. Response comes back:”Can you check your vm?” Independent of the fact that we just got a new voice mail system and I did the required steps but did not bother to learn the intricacies and operation of the new system (three cheers for the “voice mail lady”), it struck me as an odd way to communicate. I will readily agree that a back-and-forth conversation is much better handled over the phone than via email, and I have to presume that’s what this person was trying. But to send an email telling me to check a voice mail was not only aggravating, it seems incredibly inefficient. Since I was also a bit miffed, I looked long and hard for the principal that had been violated.I suppose there are several levels to investigate, but at the core is the principal in all communications that you’re in it for the listener, not you. Whatever helps THEM hear your message is what you should do. Making me read an email to go and listen to a voice mail (which incidentally gave me options and required a response) does not meet the needs of the listener. It forces their hand and inconveniences them. Since this was not terribly important stuff, no harm. But were I a client for a multi-million dollar contract or the doctor with the only known cure for the illness we were discussing or the loan officer needing a piece of information to process your house loan, then such behavior would be undeniably counterproductive.The principal of communications is the same.

Do whatever you can to make it easy for your listeners/audience to get the message.

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