The hardest and most important aspect of good communication is making sure the human on the other side can understand it. Actually, not only understand, but relate to it. At Imbue, one of the most satisfying times we experience is when we see the faces of our clients light up after we nail the words and visuals that tell their brand’s story with extreme clarity. Clarity that is often so simple, it seems like it should have been obvious to everyone all along. When that happens, we know we’ve made it easier for them to tell their story, and we’ve made it even easier for their best audiences to want to join them on their journey.
I think about the subject of ease all the time when it comes to communication. Our audiences won’t spend time trying to decipher messages. We can’t make it hard — whether we’re communicating with colleagues, clients, or customers. We must be direct, honest, clear, empathetic, and often creative when we are trying to be heard as individuals and brands. Furthermore, we need to be sure that we don’t mislead anyone along the way.
This topic came to mind because last night I tried to book airline award travel with one of the largest airlines in the United States. The airline always touts that with just 25,000 miles you can get a free flight within the continental United States. Great! I’ve got over 100,000 points to use. Surely my partner and I can fly to California with coach class seats for less than 100,000 miles. Right?
Well, sort of. In order to travel at a reasonable hour and only connect once each way, we actually needed 120,000 miles (60,000 each). However, if we were willing to leave on a different day of the week, fly overnight, and connect through 2 different airports each way, I could have covered the trip with miles.
I was frustrated. Not only with the empty promise of being able to use miles on flights I would actually want to take, but also with a clunky user experience on the airline’s website that made trying to figure out how to calculate and book award travel a chore.
So, here’s an important reminder about ease for everyone in business. If you make it hard, your prospects will move on. If you make things difficult, your colleagues will either get frustrated with you, or simply tune you out. If you mislead people, your credibility will suffer. Make it easy on yourself and others by taking the time to make things as easy and clear as possible. And remember, sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to ensure what you think seems easy actually is.
Re-read a few emails or texts today and think about how you could have made your communications more tailored to the needs of the recipient so he or she could have processed and responded to you with greater ease. Could they have been shorter? Maybe they needed more context? Perhaps some of your messages were just too rushed or you made too many assumptions based on your state of mind (as opposed to the potential state of mind of whomever was getting the message).
If you’re in the design or development world, try to take yourself out of the role of creator and look at your work as someone inexperienced with your brand or product. Have you made the path to completion or comprehension as easy and frictionless as possible?