The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M., for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters. January  2007


Be Specific for clarity

April 2008

This morning I noticed myself writing this sentence in our quarterly report
On a net total basis, we are ahead of last year by 10% at this same time.

It violates one of my cardinal rules for contract writing and communications. BE SPECIFIC!.

Here is my second try at the sentence.
The total award value expended as of April 1,2008 exceeds the total value at the same time in FY07.

You can see what a difference the details make to clarify my sentence.  Including the specific detail, noun or object, each time I reference it, might take a little more time when writing, but it improves the communication significantly.

In my first try at the report there are more than 4 places where the reader has to make an assumption about what I'm talking about. That is more than 4 places where a misunderstanding could be occurring.

 Understanding is an obvious benefit of including details; here are some more benefits:

Restating facts and details in a very long and complex communication will aid comprehension significantly. The more pronouns or obtuse references removed the more like it will be understood.

Secret negotiation tip: The more a fact or detail is repeated, the more people start to believe it's true and/or the more validity it appears to have. Example: If every communication during the last year includes the exact contract dollar amount, imagine how hard it will be at the end of the year for the contractor to claim that it's wrong or that he didn't know what the dollar amount should be.

In my experience: The best way to improve your communication style is to get in the habit of removing references and adding details, objects and facts.


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