Most of us review communication for colleagues.

When doing this, the temptation is to dive in and edit the words on the page.

This involves going straight into the detail, fixing typos, changing words and potentially tightening or removing sentences or whole sections.

In other words, it requires you to work bottom-up to iterate in the weeds to hope you find the message.

This is time-consuming and messy, and inevitably leads to more rework and less clarity. It means you contribute to what I call the Chain of Pain. See below.


It is also unlikely to drive a fast and effective business outcome.

Here is what I suggest instead.

If you don't know what specific outcome your colleague is shooting for and can't find the main message at a glance …. ‘make like Kissinger'.

He is famous for asking his subordinates the following question before reviewing their work.

“Is this your best work?”.

If yes, great. He'd review it.

If not … he'd ask them to keep working on it before using his time to review.

I hope that helps. More soon.

Kind regards,


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