Clear async comms to improve mental health

Communicating clearly is one of the best biz/team skills you can develop, and especially critical in remote work. Everyone “knows” it, but few act on it.

I want to touch on some of the mental health benefits that clear communications can bring to work. I think it plays a key role in having good mental health at work.

Being clear builds trust. It does this by letting others know they can rely on you. Clear comms lets others confidently clear all sorts of things from their mind. Clear comms = clear mind. Unclear comms = a cluttered mind, filled with assumptions, what if’s, scenarios, fears, etc.

Here’s a few examples to help you clarify your comms.

Set a date

❌ Yup, I’ll get it done.
✅ Yup, I’ll get it done. Expect it by tomorrow EOD.

When taking something on, putting down specific date/times helps reassure the person on the other side. They can clear it from their mind for an explicit duration of time, letting them focus elsewhere.

Frame questions for easier response

❌ [Paragraph explaining potential direction.] What do you think of it?
✅ [Paragraph explaining potential direction.] Taylor, do you think approach A is the stronger route?

Ask people to agree or disagree explicitly by calling them out and framing the question around a possible answer.

Not only will you get more direct responses, but you’ll force action. Our minds love defaulting to “but… what about…” . It’s easier to think of why “this way” won’t work. It’s more difficult to think of why “this way” is both great and not so great.

This sort of approach leads to an unfolding conversation, where opinions and ideas are shared more freeform. It’s easier on the mind than trying to jam dozens of thoughts into the perfectly balanced response.

Emoji + text

❌ 👍
✅ 👍 — understood, I’ll take care of it by tonight.

People love emoji. People also misunderstand them often. Get in the habit of backing up your reactions with text so the intent is explicit. This reassures people on the receiving end of an emoji.

One response at a time

❌ Hmmm, I don’t know if that’s great. What about X, or Y, or Z? Maybe if we took X and then did 1, 2, 3… [two paragraphs of explanations.]
✅ Have you considered X?

Clear communication doesn’t always mean over-communication. Blurting out your own opinions when unasked can cause a lot of distraction.

Folks usually put a lot more thought into something than they can share over text. Acknowledge this by responding with short questions, letting them explain further. Hold your own thoughts until they ask you specifically.