Correctness—One of Six ‘C’ Qualities of Effective Communication
The ‘C of Correctness’, one of six Cs which represents the six (6) qualities of effective communication, calls for revision of messages, to ensure that content, mechanics, and appearance of a message are correct. Each of these is required to meet the criteria of correctness.
Correctness means that the details of a message are accurate. Details involve not only the message content but also the message appearance.
Always ensure the message you communicate is correct to the best of your knowledge. Your receivers invest precious time in listening or reading your message because they feel that the message communicated by you is reliable and if they find it otherwise, you lose your credibility.
The correctness of your messages depends on your proofreading skills. Good proofreaders use reference tools to check message content and to evaluate message appearance. The following four reference tools will help you produce correct messages:
- A dictionary
- A thesaurus (either printed or electronic version)
- A word division manual
- A format guide
Use a dictionary as a general reference to check spelling and word meaning. Consult a thesaurus for acceptable word choices. Verify preferable word division points in a word division manual. Refer to the Format Guide for acceptable message layouts.
Sending correct messages builds your credibility. In the workplace, a reputation for accuracy enhances your competence and helps you build a successful career. After you have written a draft of your message, complete the following tasks to ensure message correctness:
- Verify spelling.
- Select correct appropriate punctuation.
- Check names, places, dates, times, and amounts.
- Evaluate message appearance.
Misspellings of frequently used words may be difficult to locate if you give your message just a quick once-over. However, a misspelled word may change the meaning of a sentence or may create a negative impression about you and your organization. Make sure every word is correct before you transmit your message.
In addition to a standard dictionary, you may need a trade or professional dictionary to check the spelling of technical or specialized terms. When you key a document in a word processing program, use the spell checker. However, do not rely on an electronic spell checker to detect errors in word usage. Spell checkers cannot determine whether you have used a word properly in the context of your message. Recheck spelling when you add new text or change word endings during the writing process.
Selecting the wordOpens in new window or phraseOpens in new window that correctly communicates your meaning can be challenging. The English language has borrowed words and expressions from many languages. As a result, English contains many homonymsOpens in new window and homophonesOpens in new window.
Selecting correct words and phrasesOpens in new window also involves checking your messages for subject and verb agreementOpens in new window and for parallel structure.
Punctuation marks serve as traffic signs for readers.
Punctuate messages according to punctuation rules. When you insert appropriate punctuation in the correct locations, you maintain clarity for readers.
Punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. Compare the following examples:
Effective messages contain complete and correct names, places, dates, times, and amounts. Avoid confusion, lost time, effort, and money for your receivers. Check names, places, dates, times, and amounts twice for accuracy.
After verifying content correctness, evaluate the message for correct appearance. Correct appearance included the style and placement of the message.
Most business communicationsOpens in new window follow standard company guidelines and practices. The message placement on a page, form, screen, or letterhead produces an image in the reader’s mind. To make a good impression, the message should be formatted correctly and attractively, as well as be free of keying errors.