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Clarity/Clearness for effective business Communication

A clear mind is reflected in writings that have clarity. Unless your thoughts and ideas are clear, your writing tends to be muddled (Untidy). Then, you have to begin by clearing your thoughts and deliberately making a choice of the words and expressions that you are going to use. You should choose words and expressions that are known to the reader. Though in other context people say “familiarity breeds contempt” in the context of communication, a familiar word conveys the meaning more effectively. Unfamiliar words and words not in vogue sound pretentious, though high sounding. Business communication, unfortunately in the previous age tended to be so pretentious that it has been labelled ‘Commercialese’ (Business Jargon). Do not use ‘instant’ for this month or Ultimo/ proximo etc for the previous and the next. Say 17th of April instead of 17th instant. Do not use “circa” for “about”. There is no need to use high sounding words like “honorarium” or “remuneration” for pay or wages. People quite often say “we perused” the document. Instead you can simply say we studied / examined the document.

Look at the following pairs of sentences :

1. He accomplished the job with ease.

He did the job well.

2. He corresponds with his brother regularly

He writes to his brother regularly

3. He located a new job

He found a new job.

4. Will you be good enough to meet the manager.

Please meet the manager

In recent times, the use of the computers has led to the coinage of several abbreviations which do not mean anything to many people. Such adhoc abbreviations or acronyms confuse the reader. Clear writing avoids abbreviations and acronyms that are adhoc creations of individuals or even groups.

Clarity is also achieved by the use of short sentences. Long run on sentences do not reveal learning but only cause confusion. Each sentence must be coherent and the words should be arranged in the correct order. Every sentence or even paragraph should carry only one central idea. Sentences should never be packed with ideas agreeing or contradicting each other. Sentences should emphasise the main idea. In short, clear writing means use of familiar words or expressions, and avoidance of jargons and unknown acronyms. It also means sentences and paragraphs of optimum length, having unity, coherence and emphasis.

Examine the following illustrations where the second sentence in each pair has greater clarity than the first one.

1. The policy was revised consequent to the resignation of the chairman and the reconstitution of the board.

The new board revised the policy following the resignation of the chairman.

2. We are enclosing the monthly statement for payments due from you.

The statement of account is enclosed.

3. We request the pleasure of your company…

We cordially invite you…

4. The enquiry commission has come to the following conclusion and declared that the police did not act in excess of their authority.

“There was no police excess “, declared the enquiry commission.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Roy Lawson June 27, 2013, 7:44 am

    This author apparently feels the need to perpetuate the “dumbing down” of our society. Intelligent and motivated persons welcome the opportunity to expand their vocabulary. If someone has limited vocabulary in their native language, that person most likely uses extremely poor grammar in his or her communications. Unless it’s a menial job, I wouldn’t hire someone to an important position whose vocabulary is limited to 4-letter words.

  • anon December 8, 2013, 12:42 pm

    This article sucks ass. How about that for short and clear? Instead of teaching to not use advanced vocabulary for the sake of clarity, you should be teaching that vocabulary is a tool for clarity, not for sounding smart. Vocabulary can used to add nuance that a simpler sentence might not convey. The point is to use APPROPRIATE vocabulary, and not be excessive about it. I agree with Roy, stop trying to dumb people down.

  • Annita Jaen Carter May 7, 2017, 6:03 am

    Thanks for the opportunity to get clarification of communication theory

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