I was chatting with Heather, one of our finalists for the Canadian Administrative Professional of the Year, and she threw out the term BLUF. I smiled, as I hadn’t heard that in many years.
BLUF – bottom line up front.
How many of you work for professionals that are very bottom-line focused? Regardless of your personality type assessment, they are D (direct) in any version. They cut you off and ask you to get to the point. They don’t want to waste time in chit-chat and want to make the conversation direct, focused, and efficient. Let’s be honest; most of your executives are very direct in their communication styles (and many of you are as well!)
That’s where BLUF comes in. Use your subject line or the first line in the email to get to the point quickly. Cut to the chase if you are face-to-face or on the phone. Please don’t ask how their weekend was (you can do that later) or how their day is, but ask the question or state the point first.
“I’m calling to see if you have the budget numbers for our educational event.” Not, “Hi, Rhonda. How are you today? I hope you are having a fabulous week and are loving your job more than you ever thought possible.”
Virtually everyone will understand what you need when you get to the point quickly and give you the information. We can be social and ask how the kids are or how the vacation was once we clarify the purpose of the call or email.
However, if you get all relationship focused and ask how their weekend was, how they are enjoying this great spring, or all the other “trivialities” that email or chit-chat provides, many are screaming in their head, “What do you WANT?”
I’ll admit that I am screaming inside when I answer the phone to an unknown caller, and they want to chit-chat. It feels manipulative and as if you are trying to be buddies before we get down to business (for the record, I am a very strong D (direct) in communication profiles.)
However, if I know you, I want to chat a bit as I consider us friends, or at the very least, friendly. I’m fine with getting down to business first, but I want to connect with you. I am very extroverted, love relationships, but am also very direct in my style (this surprises none of you who have been following me for a while, right?).
KISS stands for Keep it Simple Stupid or Keep it Short and Sweet. Either work
I am a writer who can write a thousand words on any subject. However, conversations, emails, messages, letters, etc., must be short, sweet, and straightforward. Twitter did us a favor by initially condensing our thoughts to 140 characters (long gone). At first, we found it hard to digest the thought into so few characters, but the challenge itself is good!
While emails are becoming like pen pal letters, we must balance direct and potentially abrupt (which feels rude) and simple.
Start strong. Get to the point of the email, phone call, or conversation. You can be friendly, but earn that right, don’t assume that right.
Keep it simple and short. Bottom line up front. Can I get an AMEN?