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Using "if x then y" for more effective communication

Using "if x then y" for more effective communication

Those in the technology industry would know the above “if x then y” statement when scripting or coding. Others would use it countless times without actually knowing it. For example, If the light goes green then you go, if the alarm goes off then you snooze or get up etc.. There are many applications of this construct we can use consciously in order to drive efficiency; especially when communicating.

I was listening to a podcast recently which made me think about email and how we are generally inefficient in communicating. For example, many of us complain about how many email messages we get a day and our ability to keep our inbox manageable. If we use the “if x then y” logic when writing emails we have the potential of reducing our inboxes significantly.


Think about a simple example. Asking someone if they are free on a certain day. Why not ask in the same email “if” you are free (x), then let’s catch-up for coffee at a certain place at a certain time (y). Another example: Is (if) that document finished (x), if so (then) please send it to this person by this time (y). In both examples you would normally send two emails, however, the key is to send just one. The point here is about thinking ahead of the game rather than email tennis where you are putting the ball in the other person’s court to get it out of your inbox; this is short term thinking.

What Next?

If you use this approach already, cool, keep doing it. Otherwise try it and see what happens! Don’t just limit it to email, think about social media and text messaging. Hopefully you see a slight improvement in your productivity.