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Using the U-It-I model for written communications will eliminate all those pissy emails that send co-workers into a tizzy. It starts from the position of empathy with your audience. 

U-It-I - The order of communication

Posted  on 5/13/10

Communicating through cans on a stringNormally I'm not big on acronyms or models, but I have noticed how many written communications, especially emails, can have the unintended effect of pissing their audience off.  The problems is that we are under the perception that communicating is about getting our own point across to those around us. However, communicating effectively is about first understanding the points of view of the other people with whom we are communicating. Then we know how to tailor our message so it can be received easily and willingly. Hence, the U-It-I model: U-It-I stands for You, it, and I, the elements your communication should contain and usually in that order.

You -  Instead of thinking of yourself all the time and trying to figure out how best to make people understand you, start from a position of empathy. Imagine what the person on the receiving end will think of what you have to say before you say it. Now tailor your message from this perspective.

It – The second element is a realistic and honest assessment of the situation or "it.". Please, no jargon, no clichés, and no sports analogies. Feel free to include the positive aspects of the situation, but glossing over the problems never does anyone any good. In many corporate cultures, sharing bad news is frowned upon because no one wants to look bad. However, without candid communication, small problems become big ones, and the right people cannot address them in a timely fashion.

I - Thirdly, once you've addressed your audience and the situation in an open and honest manner, it is time to talk about what you want in an open and honest manner. No hidden agendas, please. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. Use of feeling words like “I fear” or “I hope” or “I want” can be very useful if you are unaccustomed to expressing yourself candidly.

If you follow this model, you are much less likely to end up sending emails that annoy your co-workers.


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