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If it’s important, say it again

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in Workplace Communication

When you need co-workers to remember something—say, to follow a new office procedure or simply to wash their own coffee mugs—you need to deliver it multiple times.

“The first time you say something, it’s heard,” says William H. Rastetter, who taught at MIT and Harvard before becoming CEO of Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. “The second time, it’s recognized, and the third time, it’s learned.”

Your challenge: To repeat something without sounding so boring that people tune you out or begin to feel negative about the message. Masters of communication find new ways to make the same points again and again.

You might “break the news” about a new procedure during a staff meeting. Several days later, you might send an e-mail to everyone titled “How the change affects you,” with a bullet list of instructions. Finally, post a flier or write an article in the office newsletter to share how the procedure change is making a difference.

Odds are co-workers will get the message.

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