Clear and Concise

A month ago I contacted a programmer friend of mine for help with a project. He was impossible to reach via email, so I finally caught him on Facebook chat. We negotiated his pay and discussed the project on Facebook chat. 

In the first two weeks, I emailed him a ton. And he never got back to me. When an email required a response, he texted me; other than that I didn’t hear from him. At first I interpreted his brief communication as a lack of interest in the project.

We now communicate almost exclusively with short text messages. His messages are short and his ideas aren’t padded with greetings and politeness. As a result he is clear and commands my attention. And because he doesn’t spend time with greetings or anything else, his responses are nearly immediate.

One can obviously be too short when communicating. An example might be Steve Jobs. I just finished his biography, by Isacsonn. Jobs was succinct and clear. People were “bozos,” or “geniuses,” and programs were “shit” or “masterpieces.” He didn’t take the time to translate his thoughts to typical feedback language. As a result he got things done (maybe you’ve heard of Apple), but also came off as an asshole to many people he met.

Communicating efficiently without appearing rude is an art. With the above-mentioned programmer, I can be short (though not Steve Jobs short). A graphic designer I worked with responded better to warmer, less formal communication. The bottom line is that how one communicates (even at work) depends on the person opposite you and the subject matter.

I never want to offend people or make them feel unimportant. But the less time I spend emailing and calling people about work, the more time I have to play. And work on other projects.