By Vic Ing, President of Alliance Solutions Group of Mahoning Valley
Life is often fast-paced, especially at work. It’s even more so ever since the advent of email and smart phones. Work seems to come at you now from every direction, even when you’re not at work. You can’t hide from emails and text messages and phone calls because when it’s coming to your phone, your boss and your customer knows you saw it the minute they sent it. You may not have acted on it right away, but they know you saw it.
The result is a tendency to over-communicate, under-communicate or just plain drop the ball. Here are some helpful tips to make work communication much more streamlined, efficient and tolerable.
Don’t call someone and leave a voicemail saying “Call me.”
What a caller should do is leave a detailed but brief message indicating what it is they need. There are many reasons for this and some benefit the initial caller. The person can prepare themselves for the call and hopefully, eliminate multiple conversations on this topic in the future.
If the person you’re calling knows what you need, they can simply find you the answer and call you back. What’s best is the two parties may not need to even talk! They can exchange voicemails, emails or text messages in a very time-efficient way.
What the person who receives a “call me” call really wants to do is just ignore the call. It’s an intrusion in the first place and when no information is shared, it becomes an annoyance as well. But of course, let’s be honest – many times it is a customer or your boss making this call. You can’t ignore those calls. So, what do you do? You train the person. Explain had you known what they were calling about, what you could have done differently and how this would have benefited them.
Or, share this article with them. Maybe they will get the hint.
If it’s easier to text or email or otherwise send a quick message instead of talking, do that instead!
This is far more efficient than a conversation if you’re just delivering a quick alert or update.
However, it also is a real-time interruption to the person at the receiving end, especially if it is a text message, so make sure it’s information the person truly needs or is waiting for. A quick text message they can glance at can go a long way since they’re often likely to do so even while they’re in a meeting – which could be very useful and help streamline communication in the subsequent meeting.
In Information Technology, data transfer is expressed in terms of “packets.” To extend this analogy to interpersonal communication, an actual in-person conversation often involves way too many “packets” of information. A conversation can veer off course and take way too much time. This can be a good thing, of course. An exchange of ideas can lead to additional ideas and great things can happen. But, if you just need a specific piece of information at this time, just send that single data “packet.”
Be courteous of other’s time and attention. It’s as valuable (or more) than your own.
If a message goes back and forth three times or more, talk instead!
You’ve experienced it before. A simple question and what should be a simple response becomes an entire chain of messages back and forth. Questions are asked, clarifications are made, requests are made and the result is communication that is far more complex than it should have been.
Cut it off when it starts! If you hit the third response, suggest that you speak instead. Better yet, just pick up the phone and make it happen. A few minutes conversation can clarify what neither of you were able to communicate in brief sentences via text or email.
Some people do communicate better in person or on the phone than they do in writing. If this is the case, even if you are skilled at communicating either way, give in and allow yourself a quick conversation. It will make it easier on you and far easier on the other person who may been having trouble keeping up – or wasn’t giving you their full attention.
Always give acknowledgement that a task is completed or a message received.
Effective communicators are able to keep a lot of balls in the air at the same time. They track their tasks and responsibilities to make sure they hit their own deadlines and promises to clients and managers.
They don’t want to lose control of a project when they need the help of someone else, so generally they will carefully track who they requested help from and communicated clearly on what deadline they need the information or response.
As a result, you can bet they are going to track you down if you miss the deadline or if they just don’t hear from you. As someone entrusted to assist in some way, you may be responsible enough to have taken care of the issue immediately. However, if you haven’t updated the person requesting the help, you are doing both yourself and them a disservice. It’s all about communication.
Do not ‘Reply ALL’ to a group email.
Unless you have a very good reason to do so (and it’s rare you will), please think twice before you hit everyone with an email who may have been unfortunate enough in the first place to be on a group email.
We’ve all experienced this personally and most likely have had our phone burn up as person after person responds and feels the need to include everyone on their comment or opinion, or worse, to just say “OK, Boss!” or “Thank you!”
Don’t be that person. Just say no.
Good communication makes you a better person.
Please heed these tips. Embrace them. Make the world around you a better place. Being efficient at work leaves more time for development of your business. Being efficient at work leaves you more free time to enjoy away from work. Being a good communicator makes your job easier and makes you a more valuable resource to others.