The Power of Clear Communication in Building Human Connections

KRISTEN M. CLARK
BY KRISTEN M. CLARK
OWNER AND FOUNDER, PRISTINE CLARITY

Without social connection, none of us can thrive — let alone survive.

Communication is the essence of connection. Whether through spoken language, written words, static images, or moving pictures, communication is how we bridge the gaps between us and express our unique thoughts, ideas, values, and experiences.

But what use is a message if it is not clear or understandable to the person meant to receive it? Communication is not ever meant to be one-sided; it is, by definition, an exchange.

Clear, effective communication requires empathy and compassion to center the audience’s needs at all times — to prioritize the human in humanity.

Expressing what we want to say in the clearest or simplest way possible — no matter the medium — is an act of empathy and compassion toward one another. It saves us all (both communicator and recipient) time and effort by ensuring efficient exchanges of information. This shared knowledge and understanding then allows us to take informed, decisive action as we move through the world and shape our society, hopefully for the better.

Plain language is an evidence-based international standard for clear communication that applies across all mediums and topic areas. It’s long been used by governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, news agencies, and more. Last year, the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, further bolstered the credibility of plain language by publishing an official international standard for it: ISO 24495-1.

Based on a longstanding definition from the International Plain Language Federation, the ISO defines plain language as “communication in which wording, structure, and design are so clear that intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.”

While that definition sounds simple, achieving clarity in communication takes conscious effort and hard work. And that effort begins with centering the audience’s needs above the writer’s.

Effective communication requires achieving that essential human connection between two or more parties. A communication that lacks that is meaningless and futile.

That’s why, at Pristine Clarity, I ask each potential client two vital questions:

  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What are we trying to achieve?

Without answers to those two questions, the message is adrift. Neither I, nor my client, will have the human-centered focus we need for an effective message. Only once we know who the audience is and what we mean to achieve in communicating with them can I guide my clients in refining and polishing their message for optimal clarity and impact.

Take Mariposa Analytics, for instance. They get it: The key to effective communication lies in putting people first. By using plain language and tailoring messages to resonate with their intended audience, Mariposa Analytics creates real impact.

It’s a joy and privilege to support clients like Mariposa Analytics who understand and embrace such human-centered approaches. Clear communication that focuses on the people behind the message is the most efficient and effective means to have the greatest impact on the public good.

By thoughtfully using plain language techniques and understanding my clients’ goals and motivations, I help them tailor their messages in a way that has a mutual benefit: My clients can express themselves in the way they intend, and their intended audience is empowered to easily understand and act on the message with as minimal effort as possible.

In the pursuit of plain language (particularly when the aim is to reach a broad audience of different knowledge levels, skills, and abilities), I advise and coach my clients on strategic opportunities to:

  • Be concise and direct.
  • Cut down on jargon and unfamiliar abbreviations.
  • Use active voice.
  • Use familiar words.
  • Avoid lengthy sentences or paragraphs that may be hard to understand.
  • Break relevant information out into lists, sidebars, or graphics.

Strategies like these (and more) have an accumulating impact that allow the underlying message to shine in the most pristine way possible.

So, let’s make a pact: Together, let’s champion plain language in all communications, so that we can build genuine connections with each other and make a positive mark on the world.

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