I get cross when people communicate badly. But only in very specific situations.
You’ll know the kind of situations. Like, for example, I was recently sent an email in my day job about some health & safety training I was supposed to do when I started the company.
There was little detail. It was in a very passive aggressive tone. And – worst of all – there was no link to the training.
It was an email to say to look for the previous email. Who sends those!?
Not a big deal I know. But OH MAN was it annoying.
Turned out it was an automated email from an automated system sent automatically on a colleague’s behalf. A quick phone chat later and I was watching a video on how to sit in a chair like an adult.
It was all fine.
But what bugs me is that someone had wasted time writing that automated email first off. And that has potentially wasted more people’s time. Not only that, but no one has edited a more appropriate version since then.
And this poses three problems for me.
I know I shouldn’t get cross because it’s a waste of my energy.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things this doesn’t matter. I’m not deluded. I know my work is not drastically changing the world.
But it is making things a little easier for people. Good writing can make a big difference in small and useful ways.
So it’s not helpful to get cross when that’s what I’m aiming to do.
I really shouldn’t get annoyed when people are bad at writing…
(And when I say bad writing I don’t mean like Bad Sex Awards bad writing. I mean confusing, lengthy and dull writing. I mean an overuse of passive tense, vague language choices and no hyperlinks!)
…because this gives me the opportunity to help others. It gives me the opportunity to understand their ideas and help people express them better.
This is probably one of the biggest problems about getting cross with bad communication, because it’s very personal.
When I get cross at seeing examples of bad communication it reveals a flaw in my character.
It’s the feeling that I can do better than others.
And I don’t like that. I don’t like to think I am better than other people. It’s not an appealing trait.
I like to be the best at writing and communicating to help people, not to undermine them.
I believe in helping people express their ideas in clear and interesting ways that they have never thought of.
But it doesn’t help when I think I’m better than the other person.
So, I make active effort to think about this. For example, when I write (or re-write) a piece of content I try to maintain it in their tone of voice.
I’m not there to drown them out, I’m there to help them shout about themselves.
So, I try my best to not get cross at bad communication.
But PLEASE don’t email people asking to look for a previous email.