Workplace Rights

Weekly (3/20/17)

Topic of the Week  Source Code: Effective Business Communications

  • Purpose.
  • Explanation.
  • Action.
  • Thanks.

Source Code: Effective Business Communications

Everyone at work seems to be overwhelmed today. With all of our bulging inboxes, it's so darned important for every one of us to learn how to communicate more efficiently and effectively. In fact, if I had a magic wand, this is the first thing that I'd like to see change at work. Okay, right after doubling all of our pay and tripling our vacation time. Which reminds me of a woman in Manatee, FL who tried to conceal drugs that she was carrying by stuffing them down her pants. When her secret didn't make it past the TSA agent searching her, she immediately denied that the drugs were hers.

The only thing more odd than denying something in your pants isn't yours, is sending out an email, memo or report that sounds like it isn't yours, that it's in someone else's voice. And we all do it more often than we acknowledge. We all need to stop sending out stuff that sounds like it was written by a computer or copied from somewhere else. That's why I've included four rules for effective business communication, PEAT. For more, check out Curry & Young's book "Be a Brilliant Business Writer" (Ten Speed, 2010).

Purpose. Everyone is far too busy today to have to troll through another meaningless report, email or memo. Everything you do should have a clear and specific purpose. Imagine how much extra time we'd all have to actually do our jobs if all the chaff got separated from the wheat before it hit our inbox? But when it comes to purposeful communications, you don't have to wait for someone else to lead the way, you can start your own crusade.

Explanation. Interestingly most business communications leave out the most important part, the why. The explanation of why will not only help to get people to buy in to whatever you want to see happen, it will provide them the context to understand the motivation behind whatever policy or initiative you are discussing. It doesn't have to be long-winded, I've seen many explanations that are no longer than a paragraph.

Action. Duh. But you'd be surprised how many missives I've seen that turn the action step into some kind of connect the dots riddle, where you have to figure it all out on your own. Learn how to be absolutely explicit, describe the action you'd like to see as clearly and specifically as you can. Do this and you just might be surprised to see what you want actually happen.

Thanks. I just don't think that you can ever thank people enough at work. To me it's like the old saying about voting in Chicago, thank people early and thank them often. If you want your people to be motivated when they come to work each day, it's important to make them feel like their efforts matter. Thanking them regularly is a heck of a way to make this happen.

Follow these tips and your message won't be concealed, many people will hear it.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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"The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success: concentration, discrimination, organizations, innovation and communication."

–Harold S. Geneen

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Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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