In this fast-paced, technology-driven world, you are provided with a steady stream of information in your personal life by way of texts, e-mails, and telephone and in person conversations and in your professional life in the form of e-mails, telephone and in person conversations, reports, speeches, meetings, conference calls, presentations and conferences.
When you share information in your personal life, it is usually more instant and informal, you may be in a rush or paying less attention to the information that you share with others or you may believe that it is not necessary or important or you have neither the time, energy nor focus to assess the information for its quality, quantity or clarity or whether the person receiving the information be it a family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger has the capacity to process its tone, content, volume or complexity. The quality, quantity, clarity and capacity of information can often matter more in your personal life that in your professional life. How many times has the quality of information that you have shared resulted in more understanding leading to positive feelings or more misunderstanding resulting in negative feelings? How often has the quantity of information that you have shared provoked a positive, negative or no response? When was the last time that you took the time to read over the information that you are communicating to ensure that it is clear and will be interpreted as you intended rather than bring misinterpreted and your thinking called into question? Finally, have you put yourself in the receiver’s shoes to determine how they will react to the information? Will they see it as a must have or nice to have, too much or too little, useful or useless, time well spent or time wasted, right on or a write off?
When you provide information in your professional life, how often, prior to sharing it, do you assess its quality, quantity, and clarity as well as the capacity of your client/customer or colleague to process the tone, content, volume and complexity of the information? In terms of the quality of information, you need to examine it closely and carefully and decide if it is entirely accurate and totally appropriate for your target audience. When it comes to the quantity of information, there seems to be a misconception that the more information that you share with others the more that they will value, respect and appreciate you. Often, this could not be further from the truth. Depending on the communicating styles of the individuals in your target audience, they may see your contribution of information as anything from an extremely welcome addition to an overwhelmingly unwelcome distraction. Next, it is important to verify how clearly you have outlined and expressed the information. You may be inadvertently superimposing your own level of knowledge, experience and understanding on others rather than realistically considering the level of complexity of the information and how much supporting data and commentary must accompany it. It seems like an odd suggestion when more and more information is being shared electronically, but the layout of information in terms of the size and number of paragraphs, the amount of white space, the type and size of fonts, the colour and format of illustrations like graphs and tables and other traditional criteria can add or subtract from the clarity of the information. Finally, have you thought of how much capacity the other person would have to receive, process and respond to this information? Is this the start, the middle or the end of a flow of information? Can the individual devote the time, energy and focus required for the information? Is the information a useful must have or a useless nice to have?
So the next time, before you share information, spend time assessing its quality, quantity, clarity and capacity may save you and others time, money and energy.