By: James Cross

The mission of the industry organization, Construction Specifications Institute, is to “advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.”

Any more, it seems that if you’re going to have an industry group, you also have to have levels of certification awarded to its members by that group, complete with certificates to hang on their walls and more initials to put after their names.  Of course, in order to get those certifications, members will have to study for and pass certification exams.  One of the principles that is ground into our brains during the CSI certification process was to utilize the “Four C’s” of communication when writing or editing a specification.  If those four C’s (Clear, Complete, Correct, Concise) are of value in a specification, why not in every day correspondence?  The next time you send an e-mail or even a text, take an extra minute to review it to see how well you’ve employed those four C’s:

Is the message Clear?  Notice that often times a sentence can be interpreted at least two different ways depending on word placement. Make sure that there is only one way to interpret what you’ve written.

Is the message Complete?  Does your correspondence adequately convey the thoughts you wish to send, or will the recipient need to message you back and ask for clarification or additional information?  Worse yet, will the recipient try to “fill in the blanks” and take their best guess at what you intended to say?

Is the message Correct?  Rather than fire off a quick response to an e-mail just to get the ball out of your court, make sure that you’ve taken the time and made the effort to ensure whatever you are saying is accurate and what you intended to say.  Check your word usage and make sure that you haven’t let spell check talk you into using the wrong spelling of a similar sounding word.

Is the message Concise?    Don’t feel that a short response is not adequate just because it’s short.  Say what needs to be said, but no more.  Additional verbiage can bore the reader or confuse the intent.

And speaking of being concise, I think I should conclude this post!