Navigating the Waters of Communication
When it comes to technology and communication today, it seems like there are endless
options to choose from. Everything is growing and changing so quickly that
yesterday’s methods are already being replaced. We, as fellow employees and
employers are tasked with the challenge of choosing which method is best.
While there are many methods of communication, there are several pros and cons to
each. Each method has certain benefits that, when used appropriately, can
facilitate your communication. It is, however, important that we discern which
method to use in a given situation. Using the wrong method could result in
unwanted problems. The method we use to communicate can have immediate and
lasting effects on the results we desire.
Let’s take a look at a handful of popular communication methods and break them down!
Want to guarantee that the recipient of your message gets both what you are saying and
how you are saying it? Nothing will ever beat the effectiveness of face-to-face communication. Before the invention of technology and phones, this was the only way to communicate. You had to meet with someone face-to-face to pass along a message or communicate with them. Face-to-face communication is the most effective for communicating important, sensitive, or confidential information. This is where you will be able to express your emotion, care, and concern on top of the information you are sharing. There will be less room for misinterpretation and you can guarantee that your message was delivered. None of that “oh, I never got your email” bologna.
Face-to-face isn’t perfect though. The biggest risk you run with face-to-face communication is forgotten information. Without a paper or digital trail of your conversation, information can get lost easily. If you are communicating face-to-face, make sure the recipient receives and records the information. Whether it be a note, follow-up, or reminder, double check to make sure he/she got it.
Would you be surprised if I told you that email has been around for nearly 50 years? Regardless,
the role that email plays in business communication has adapted tremendously. Email has so much flexibility with its functions that you can accomplish virtually all of your communication needs.
There are, however, some common courtesies to the art of email, no matter the content. For
starters, you’ll want to have a proper greeting. Whether it is the recipient’s full name, first name, or title, make sure you are addressing him/her appropriately. Next, try to keep the content as clear and concise as possible. No need to write a book, the recipient will benefit more from simple and easy rather than long and drawn out. Finally, make sure you have a formal signature
that lets people know who you are and what you do. It doesn’t have to be complex, just a simple name, company, and job title will suffice.
While email allows you to keep record of information, the largest drawback is the limit of emotion, character, and personality. The recipient will only be able to read into your message what they think you are presenting. Without sacrificing formality or content, try your best to convey inflection and personality.
Need a message to be delivered quickly and urgently? A phone call is your best bet.
Phone calls allow us to talk directly with someone across the globe. When it comes to business, this means you don’t have to drive to an office or building to talk with someone. This can be tremendously beneficial if you need a message sent urgently. Give the recipient a call and make sure to convey clearly and concisely your reason for calling.
Phone calls are definitely quick and easy, but they can be very limiting for your communication. The overall effectiveness of your message is judged mainly by the content, but much like email, there lacks a certain personal touch. Inflection in your voice and how you say things can be heard over the phone, but your expressions and demeanor are missing. Make sure to keep this in consideration when talking on the phone.
Now we’re venturing into the murkier waters of modern communication. I must preface by
saying, only utilize this method of communication if management is okay with it. Not every employer is the same, and not every employer will be comfortable with texting as a means of communication.
Let’s assume texting is a green light in your company. Usually texting occurs in a less formal environment where there are stronger bonds between coworkers. The majority of texting within the business world is informal, short, simple, and concise. From my experience, work-related texts deal mainly with reminders, birthday wishes, quick questions, or a “get well soon.” Texts can be good for building morale, reminders, and closing the gap between coworker relations. In some instances, companies have built-in texting software to alert customers of updates. This can be especially beneficial if utilized correctly.
Much like every other method, texting has its drawbacks. This area of communication can often be grey in the business world. With that being said, it can be all too easy to overstep a boundary or cross a line. Everything sent via text should be
This is definitely a growing method for business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) communication. With the growth of technology, and attempts to be more cost-effective, many companies are opting to have virtual meetings. This allows for more flexible meeting times/locations and makes communication quicker and more efficient with other businesses or customers.
The downsides with video calls, however, must be noted. Video calls can tend to create certain barriers on the personal relationship that can only come from face-to-face communication. With these restrictions come limits to the communication the recipient is exposed to.
Navigating the Waters
As we’re navigating new waters in communication, it is important to accept change, but try to avoid pushing the limits. You may not know what is permitted or appropriate in your given environment. Your boss might not like a birthday text. Your coworker might not read his/her emails. You can never be too sure. Ask management what the communication policies are and adhere to them. Learn to communicate effectively through any method that you are given and you’ll be good to go!
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–The Berger Hargis Team