We hear all the time that communication is a key. However, as more and more communication is done digitally (email, chat, text, etc.) busy individuals end up increasing communication quantity while the quality suffers.

You’ve likely experienced this, but have you considered that you might be guilty of it as well.

Nonprofit staff members are typically siloed from one another, and poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. When communicating with co-workers, I try to follow the 3 Cs. Here they are:

Be Clear

It is so much better to be clear on what you are asking, suggesting, recommending, or advocating. How will people get involved if they can’t understand? Part of being clear is making obvious the message being conveyed. Take a moment to think about the information hierarchy. What is most important? Is your hierarchy obvious to those consuming your information? Organize and direct your audience by grouping together related elements to create a flow of information.

Be Concise

How many of us enjoy reading an email where the three key points are spread across five or more pages? Lately, I have been trying something new – putting a “Quick hit” or TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read”) section at the top of my emails. The idea is to list the highlights so it takes seconds for my colleagues to understand if they need the details or if a general knowledge of the information is enough for them.

Be Complete

Obviously, no one intends to leave important information out, so take an extra few seconds and consider if the person you are contacting has enough information to act on the information you are sending. Give those reading the power to respond by providing all of the information they need to take action.

You would expect the same when on the receiving end of information and the sender expects a reply from you.

Imagine your organization is seeking a personal testimonial for a program to share on your website. Two parents submit testimonials.

The first says “I love this program, it’s been really great.”

The second says “I really enjoy the one-on-one attention my daughter gets with her math. It has increased her confidence and helped raise her tests scores a whole grade letter.”

Which provides more of an impact and insight into the benefits of your program? Make sure your replies are just as detailed and helpful.

Hopefully, your digital communication can be sharpened by using the 3 Cs above. Don’t be afraid to ditch the device and visit a colleague personally. The 3 Cs are often much easier to adhere to in person.

Do you have some rules of thumb when communicating with co-workers? Let us know in the comments below!

Eli Wood
Eli Wood was previously a Software Engineer at Bloomerang.