It’s a new year. Many people are setting goals or writing their three words for the year. They’re putting plans into motion. Some of those people are doing so without any regard for the past year. They want to forget it as quickly as possible. If they could, they would blot it from their memories.

The irony is that people need to remember. They need to note what worked and what didn’t. They need to identify their pressure points. They need to know where they excel and where they struggle. Knowing those things are essential to success, but they can’t be found without taking a retrospective look at the past.

That remembrance is equally essential for anyone who’s in the communication business, which is to say, everyone. Everyone communicates whether it be via text, email, or handwritten letter. People need to evaluate those communications and determine what needs to change and what needs to stay the same.

For instance, an employer may wonder why none of his employees finish a project on time. If that employer were to examine his communications, he might find that his expectations weren’t clear. He didn’t provide adequate direction nor did he state a final deadline. Perhaps the problem was the opposite: he gave too much direction and hovered beside his employees. He “cracked the whip” any chance he had, and the employees failed to complete the project in the allotted time frame. Another problem could be that the employer didn’t offer sufficient time. He gave the employees the deadline when the deadline was two days away. He forgot that time is as important as the message itself.

Employees and people seeking employment aren’t immune from the retrospect; they, too, need to review their communications. They might be experiencing problems with tone. Maybe people find their messages belligerent or disrespectful. Maybe they aren’t conveying what they hope to accomplish. They generalize so much that no one can identify what their specific skills or aims are. They don’t emphasize what makes them different from other people. Suddenly, they’re stuck in a cubicle for years on end or their applications are shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

Before setting any goals or resolutions for 2012, it’s important to pause. It’s important to reflect and to be honest with that reflection. Ponder what worked and what didn’t, then form a strategy for the upcoming year.

About the Author:  Erin Feldman is the founder of Write Right. Erin provides writing coaching and consulting services. Her goal is to help individuals, businesses, and organizations to use the written word more effectively and creatively. Erin’s background is in writing and marketing. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and graphic design. Write right; don’t make her use her red pen.

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