Growing up in an era of no OTTs, YouTubes, TVs, or mobile phones, I grew up reading comics of all varieties. One of my favourites is Dennis the Menace. Cute and unimaginably naughty, he struck a chord.
Even after several decades, these cartoons are relevant. I can never forget the one in which Dennis tells his friend, Joey, “I know how to spell Mississippi. But I don’t know when to stop.” That spelling confuses us too! Isn’t it?
In recent times, what I have also found interesting about Dennis the Menace is its relevance to the practice of communications. More specifically, workplace communication.
Here are a few cartoons that I think are relevant to workplace communication etiquette.
Clarity of communication
Nothing illustrates the importance of clarity in communication better than this one. Lack of clarity leads to misunderstanding and may eventually lead to conflict.
Communication is said to have clarity when it is heard and understood in the manner it is intended to.
Culture and persona of the organisation
Simplicity in communication
It is hard to practice simplicity in communication, particularly in written communication. Every industry and company has its acronym, and they creep in our communication, oral or written. We often forget that not all our stakeholders are familiar with them. It is difficult to fathom for those who are not familiar with such acronyms.
It is also humane for us to show off our language prowess. This we do using complicated words and sentences.
Clarity and simplicity go hand in hand. The best test for simplicity can be articulating what your company does or what your job is in less than 10 words, using simple words.
Choice of words
We communicate primarily through words. Words we choose need to support the simplicity and clarity of our communication. Imagine if we spoke like one Indian politician who is famous for his exclusive vocabulary! With every piece of communication, we may end up circulating dictionaries.
Using understandable and precise words and avoiding obsolete words are the basics of communications. Yet it is not easy to accomplish. Another important aspect of workplace communication is using positive words. Positive words are motivating and encouraging.
When we need to communicate the unknown, we tend to use ambiguous and redundant words. For instance, when we need to communicate if external factors like the slowdown in the economy are impacting the organisation or not. The choice of words may be ambiguous and subject to one’s interpretation.
Honesty and transparency in communication
Transparency in communication is not only skill. It is also a mindset. Particularly during a bad phase of the organisation, we tend to shy away from open and honest communication. Trust is a by-product of transparency and we will never be able to build it with our stakeholders, be it, employees or customers, without transparent and open communication.
It helps build confidence among stakeholders in the organisation.
Looking at his father watch cartoons, Dennis remarked, “I remember when cartoons were for kids.” I am tempted to say his cartoons are fun for kids and lessons for adults.