Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Picking Up the Phone Is A Good Thing And So Is Actually Talking

I saw a link to this HBR article "Don't Send that Email, Pick Up the Phone" by Anthony K. Tjan and read it, then took a look at the dynamic discussion string following it.  Wow! The article created quite a stir.

It should.

The article is ultimately about effective communication and learning how to wade through the chaos of our over stimulated information crazy world and remember to to each other.  Not emailing, im'ing or texting your coworker sitting 3 feet away from you or hide behind polished corporatized prose in an email or lengthy voice mails outlining all of the details of what you were hoping to discuss on the call.  

Oh, how about those times you've sent an email or a tweet even though your intuition told you to not hit the send button?  It's misery right?  Often times the after effects take weeks or what seems like an eternity to settle.

I'm guilty of doing this.  Alot.  I've done all of the above. But I'm seeking to change my ways.  It may take time but I'm committing myself to trying to do a few things.  Here's some of my response on the discussion thread for the above HBR article and what I hope to practice.  Tell me what you think?  Do you have any suggestions on communication approaches you find work for you?  How do you balance all of the digital overload and still find ways to effectively connect and communicate with others. Please share!

Here goes:

....For me it's not about how you're communicating a certain way but keeping the end goal in mind to achieve a certain outcome, action etc. 

An example; In teaching years ago to college age students, a wise teacher shared in order to effectively communicate to students (read coworkers in our context) of all educational, economic and social skill backgrounds its' important to do a few things together, rather than rely on only one teaching approach (read communication approach):

- Know your audience and their communication styles: Adjust accordingly but keep the approach as simple as possible.

- Over communicate to a multiple of senses: Some engage better by hearing and listening, some do better by reading and writing, others need images, still others might need to physically "do" the something your discussing, ie demonstrating, prototyping, visualizing. And most likely, some combination of the above is required.And then I'm challenging myself here to follow the below:   

- Be brief in writing, summarizing, requesting.  Limit your email writing to three sentences or five as the maximum you'll write.  Less is more. It's infectious by the way. Try it! 

- Listen to your tummy ( I mean intuition): If you're about to write something and it makes you feel funny, or unsure, take notice! STOP yourself! Consider alternatives such as leaving it in draft to return to later or plain just don't send it. Get a second opinion.  Or better yet, make a call or set up a face to face to discuss.  

If you fail to heed your own body telling you something you'll only goof things up for you and others.  (of course like many, I'm guilty of not listening to my inner voice and I've paid for it dearly personally and professionally)

That's all.  

What do you think?  How important is a blended communication strategy to you and your team in getting things done?  Do you miss talking to people face to face?  How effective are you when you're more direct and personal?  Do you Skype or use Facetime as an alternative to physical face to face meetings?  

Other thoughts?  Please share!

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