I happen to be from the great State of Alabama. Where I live sweet tea, fried okra, turnip greens and butter are essentials. It’s about as “Southern” as you can get. And, I love it. I have a good friend, Jane, who happens to live “up North.” In fact, Jane lives so far “up North” I think she can almost see Canada. So, once a week, I send Jane a “Southern word of the week.” These include: fixin’, golly-whopper, hootenanny and ‘big ol,’ just to name a few. I don’t use those words on regular basis, but I wouldn’t look at you crossways if you said them. These phrases are a part of a “language culture.” In fact, I learn phrases from Jane that reflect her geography, culture and heritage as well.
Those that know me know I am sucker for a good story. And, in “the South,” we find it easy to discover a story in even the most mundane of happenings. Maybe that’s why I love “chamber of commerce” work because I get to tell a story of communities, their people, their businesses and their lives. Yet, sometimes using these colloquialisms can hinder clear communication. I find it helpful to consider three “C’s” when trying to convey a message…be clear, be concise and be correct.
Clear – As a child growing up in a church-going household, I was confused as to why we would sing about a large animal that obviously had a vision impairment. You see if you don’t clearly communicate, your message from the old hymn “Gladly, The Cross I’d Bear” becomes a song about a “cross-eyed bear named, Gladly.” It often takes time and effort to make sure our message is clear. We need to make sure our goal and purpose are easy to understand.
Concise – To clearly communicate an idea, the message needs to be concise. Being from the South, I am used to an often slow, drawn-out, long, descriptive drawl. I am definitely guilty of it myself. However, there is a distinct advantage to “getting to the point.” There will be time for follow-up and an explanation after a clear line of communication is established. Keeping things brief eliminates unnecessary items and helps you stay focused.
Correct – Last but not least, if a message is clear and concise, you must make sure it is correct. Dissemination of incorrect information can do a lot of damage. Incorrect information invalidates the message, discredits the messenger and can prove to be an impediment for future communication. Distinguishing fact from fiction is essential. As Joe Friday quipped, “just the facts, ma’am.”
There are plenty of other “C’s” that could be explored when discussing effective communication tips: credible, creative, concrete, clever, coherent, courteous, complete, content, confident, etc. If your message is clear, concise and correct you will have a “head start” on establishing an effective line of communication…one that Jane and I both will understand.