Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding communication options, part of New Manager Foundations (2013).
You communicate many messages everyday and each one has a different level of importance. For any given message, first, ask yourself, how important is this message? The more important the message, the more you must work to ensure it's understood properly. Your second task is to choose the best communication option. Is it telephone, teleconference, instant message? Here's a great rule of thumb, when in doubt, choose the highest quality option. If you don't choose the highest quality option, you're asking to be misunderstood.
Today we have more communication options than ever before, thanks to the evolution of technology. Every communication option represents a trade-off between efficiency, how fast communication takes place, and effectiveness, how fully your message is received. For example, consider these classics, written memos or reports. Compared to modern technologies, they are much slower to distribute, though they do provide a tangible record of communication. Similarly, email provides a record and it's very fast and efficient. As opposed to texting or using an instant message, email affords you the opportunity to craft longer messages and to attach any relevant documents.
Email today remains very popular, though it's overused, if not abused on a regular basis. There are two main reasons we misuse email all the time. First, we use email as a way to avoid conflict. Instead of speaking to people about difficult situations, we often hide behind our computers. The second main reason we abuse email is because we wish to formally document all of our communications. As a result, many conversations that should have been, for example, face-to-face or on the telephone, are relegated to email.
Here's my advice, you use email when higher quality options aren't available. Further, if you're feeling emotional about a difficult situation, don't be in a rush to hit the Send button. Be a thoughtful editor or let the message sit in your Draft Folder for an hour or an entire day. After the emotions subside, you can either choose to have a one-on-one conversation or carefully write the message you really wish to share. One final thought, don't be seduced by the instant gratification offered by texting and instant messaging.
They are useful, however, it's well- known that we send error-filled messages all the time, and since these messages are much shorter than emails, the damage caused by the errors can be much larger. So use these options sparingly. The most important point here is that the very best option is face-to-face communication. Only face-to-face do you hear the words most clearly, see all the non-verbal cues, and have an opportunity in realtime to ask questions and correct course if needed.
Every message you share is unique. So be sure to think about how to communicate it. For very important messages, go face-to-face, use the telephone, or video conference options. For messages of modest importance, email might be just right. For urgent or for very simple messages, texting or using IM might be perfect. In the end, you have many communication options from which to choose. You'll become an effective communicator when you learn to match the needs of the message with the proper mode of delivery.
LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.