Workplace Communication

Are you breaking the 25/5 rule?

The 25/5 rule is simple. It has two parts:

1. Don’t say something in 25 words when 5 will do.
2. Don’t use a 25-cent word when a 5-cent word will do.

If you’re anything like me, when you receive a long text, doctoral-dissertation-length email, or a voicemail that drones on and on, you tune out, delete, move on, and the message isn’t received.

It’s funny though, the same people who won’t take the time to read or listen to a long message are often the ones who send them AND are appalled when people don’t take the time to soak up their every word. If you’re anything like me, another thing you don’t enjoy is having to pull out the dictionary to translate Brobdingnagian words in a message, especially when they’re in your native language!

Communication doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t always have to be pretty. It needs to be simple and clear so that everyone who receives it truly receives it. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. 

This week, when you write an email or leave a voicemail, stop and ask if you’ve broken the 25/5 rule. Can you deliver the same message with fewer words? Are you using the simplest words possible to ensure your message gets through to others? If so, good for you! If not, take the time to shorten and simplify your communication. Not only will it save you time, the people who receive your communication will thank you for it!

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