I know I’m lagging behind the trend, but I’ve finally gotten around to reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and the tidying wave is hitting my house. I find myself looking around at the items in my home and office and asking, “Is that necessary, and does it bring me joy?”
In the process of evaluating my living and work spaces, I started thinking about the need to tidy up and declutter our oral and written communication. Being concise and to the point improves the quality of our communication in writing, on the phone, and in person. No one enjoys receiving long-winded voicemail messages or hearing 15-minute stories that could have been shared in 5 minutes. Then, like there are, you know, the filler words. You know, they’re like those annoying, unnecessary words people like put into their speech when they, uh, should just you know, pause silently, right?
Completely and uttlerly Unnecessary words and phrases have also snuck into our written communication, which is especially evident in our email and text communication.
I just received an email from a professional organization that took 1492 words to explain the benefits and cost of one of their programs. In comparison, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is just 269 words long.
When you have too much fluff in your written communication, you’re wasting time writing a long email and you’re wasting your reader’s time trying to sift through the fluff to figure out the point you’re trying to make. Many of them won’t even try.
If you’re especially fluffy in your communication, it might feel a little uncomfortable
at first when you start paring back your words. However, you’ll find over time you not only adjust, but the people with whom you’re communicating really appreciate your clearer, more concise approach to communicating.
Here’s how you can start tidying up your communication:
Eliminate Filler Words When Speaking
(A good guideline – If you wouldn’t use the word in writing, don’t use it when speaking.)
You know what I mean
Eliminate Unnecessary Words When Speaking and Writing
Current phrase (Becomes)
Absolutely necessary (Necessary)
A.M. in the morning (A.M.)
At a later time (Later)
Close proximity (Close)
Desirable benefits (Benefits)
During the course of (During)
Each and every (Each, Every)
Eliminate altogether (Eliminate)
Estimate about (Estimate)
First and Foremost (First)
Future recurrence (Recurrence)
Independent of each other (Independent)
In order to (To)
Joint collaboration (Collaboration)
Might possibly (Might)
My personal opinion (My opinion)
New innovation (Innovation)
Originally created (Created)
Plan ahead (Plan)
Reply back to me (Reply)
Same exact (Same)
Still persists (Persists)
Truly sincere (Sincere)
Ultimate goal (Goal)
Vacillate back and forth (Vacillate)
Whether or not (Whether)
Can you think of other words or phrases to add to these lists?