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The Inefficiency of Over-Simplified Messaging

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When it comes to emails, phone calls and even texting, being long-winded or vague does more than lose the attention of your audience. It wreaks havoc on a person’s productivity. I should know. It took three emails, three voicemails and nearly five hours to receive an answer to one question.

I made a doctors appointment to see a highly recommended physician. A week prior to my visit, I decided to confirm that the office received all my medical history. I called the office and left a voicemail. Since I didn’t speak to anyone directly, I went ahead and followed up with an email:

From: Ashley Lee (sent 1:35 PM)
To: Ann
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

Hello Ann,

Per my voicemail message this afternoon, I would like to verify that you did in fact receive my medical history from Dr. ABC’s office that was faxed over two weeks ago. I have an appointment with Dr. XXX on 12/03/2010.  Please confirm by replying to this email.
Thank you,

Ashley Lee

I received her response shortly after:

From: Ann (sent 2:02 PM)
To: Ashley Lee
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

Yes.

Ann

I can’t deny, I was a bit surprised at her informality. After all, she didn’t even bother to address the email with a salutation such as “Dear Ashley”. Regardless, I was satisfied. That is until I received the following email shortly after:

From: Ann (sent 2:05 PM)
To: Ashley Lee
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

I listened to your message, I have only received a few pages from Dr. Naranun?

Ann

confused small business consultant

© Flickr user busbeytheelder

I was immediately confused. My email contained the exact same message as my voicemail, so why she waited until after she replied to my email to check the record information is beyond me. Not to mention, her vague language and misuse of the question mark caused me to wonder if there was a problem with the paperwork. I picked up the phone and called her to no avail. I sent her another email:

From: Ashley Lee (sent 2:45 PM)
To: Ann
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

Ann,

Does it appear that pages are missing? Please let me know in detail what you need so that I can expedite the paperwork.

Thx,

Ashley

Her response? A vague, non-committal answer:

From: Ann (sent 4:16 PM)
To: Ashley Lee
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

I really don’t know.  It is 5 pages, I didn’t know what to expect.

Ann

Though phone calls tend to interrupt workflow, I picked up the receiver once again, left another message and sent yet another email:

From: Ashley Lee (sent 4:27 PM)
To: Ann
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

Ann,

Would you say the information you currently have is insufficient for my consultation? If so, would you please give me a detailed description of what Dr. XXX needs to see in order to give me a good second opinion. I can have my doctor’s office refax my entire paperwork if need be, but if I can give them some specific items that they need to include that would be helpful. The important thing is that Dr. XXX has everything he needs to give me good feedback, so thank you in advance for helping me achieve this.

Kindly,

Ashley

And finally, her reply:

From: Ann (sent 6:04 PM)
To: Ashley Lee
Subject: RE: Medical Record confirmation

I received your message. From the looks of it, the information I currently have for you appears sufficient.

Ann

Utilizing clear and concise communication is a great way to enhance efficiency and workflow. The key to its success however is properly distinguishing between vital and non-essential information. If not done correctly, it can create a massive gap in communication that stalls productivity.

Don’t underestimate the power of productive messaging. Contact our business process transformation consultants today to learn more about developing more efficient approaches for workplace communication.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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