To compose effective message you need to apply certain specific communication principles. They tie closely with the basic concepts of the communication process and are important for both written and oral communications. Called the “seven C’s”, they are: completeness, conciseness, consideration, concreteness, clarity, courtesy, and correctness.
Your business message is “complete” when it contains all facts the reader or listener needs for the reaction you desire. Remember that communicators differ in their mental filters; they are influenced by their backgrounds, viewpoints, needs, attitudes, status, and emotions.
Completeness is necessary for several reasons. First, complete messages are more likely to bring the desired results without the expense of additional messages. Second, they can do a better job of building goodwill. Third, they can help avert costly lawsuits that may result if important information is missing.
As you strive for completeness, keep the following guidelines in mind:
• Answer all questions asked.
• Give something extra, when desirable.
• Check for the five W’s and any other essentials.
A concise message saves time and expense for both sender and receiver. Conciseness is saying what you have to say in the fewest possible words without sacrificing the other C qualities. Conciseness contributes to emphasis. By eliminating unnecessary words, you help make important ideas stand out.
To achieve conciseness try to observe the following suggestions:
• Eliminate wordy expressions.
• Include only relevant statements.
• Avoid unnecessary repetition.
Consideration means that you prepare every message with the recipient in mind and try to put yourself in his or her place. Try to visualize your readers (or listeners)—with their desires, problems, circumstances, emotions, and probable reactions to your request. Then handle the matter from their point of view. This thoughtful consideration is also called “you-attitude,” empathy, the human touch, and understanding of human nature. (It does not mean, however, that you should overlook the needs of your organization.)
In a broad but true sense, consideration underlies the other six C’s of good business communication. You adapt your language and message content to your receiver’s needs when you make your message complete, concise, concrete, clear, courteous, and correct.
However, in four specific ways you can indicate you are considerate:
• Focus on “you” instead of “I” and “we.”
• Show reader benefit or interest in reader.
• Emphasize positive, pleasant facts.
• Apply integrity and ethic.
Communicating concretely means being specific, definite, and vivid rather than vague and general. The following guidelines should help you compose concrete, convincing messages:
• Use specific facts and figures.
• Put action in your verbs.
• Choose vivid, image-building words.
Clarity means getting your message across so the receiver will understand what you are trying to convey. You want that person to interpret your words with the same meaning you have in mind. Accomplishing that goal is difficult because, as you know, individual experiences are never identical, and words have different meanings to different persons.
Here are some specific ways to help make your messages clear:
1. Choose short, familiar, conversational words.
2. Construct effective sentences and paragraphs.
3. Achieve appropriate readability (and listenability).
4. Include examples, illustrations, and other visual aids, when desirable.
Courteous messages help to strengthen present business friendships, as well as make new friends. Courtesy stems from sincere you-attitude. It is not merely politeness with mechanical insertions of “please’s” and “thank-you’s.” To be courteous, considerate communicators should follow these suggestions regarding tone of the communications.
• Be sincerely tactful, thoughtful, and appreciative.
• Omit expressions that irritate, hurt, or belittle.
• Grant and apologize good-naturedly.
The correctness principle comprises more than proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. A message may be perfect grammatically and mechanically but still insult or lose a customer and fail to achieve its purpose. The term correctness, as applied to a business message, means the writer should:
• Use the right level of language
• Include only accurate facts, words, and figures
• Maintain acceptable writing mechanics
• Choose nondiscriminatory expressions
• Apply all other pertinent C qualities