“Communication is what the listener does.” — Marc Hortsman
A boss once that told me “I dread reading your e-mails.” I asked him why. He told me that it took him too long to read them.
I thought I was providing the detail he needed to understand what I was thinking. Or why I was making a particular recommendation or decision. I was trying to communicate clearly. Instead I was confusing him by providing too much detail and burying the key points at the bottom or even the middle of the e-mail.
I’d forgotten it wasn’t about me. It was about getting my message to him in a way that was easiest for him. In this case putting the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) solved the problem.
For complicated issues I could still write out everything I needed to think through the problem. That’s the way I prefer to communicate and think. Then, when I was done, I’d take the last paragraph or sentance, and put it at the front of the email.
Then he could say “Got it, I don’t have to read the rest of this.” Or he could skim my supporting materials to figure out what I was trying to get across.
Usually, however, we would talk in his office. This was his preferred method of communication. He asked questions to get the clarity he needed, and go to the level of detail appropriate to him. Usually this was faster than me writing and him reading a long, drawn-out e-mail, and he was happier and better informed.