There is so much to say about effective communication, but here is one thing that has arisen afresh for me in the past couple weeks.
Communication style. It matters.
Quick: Which method do you prefer for important business communications? Face-to-face? Phone? Email? Text? Other?
I was speaking to two engineering types this week – one a businessman, the other a college student. And it reminded me that engineers – by and large, with some exceptions, of course – will have a different communication style preference than, say, a sales person.
My default setting is to process written information. I’m an asynchronous communications guy who prefers email – a systematic thinker who despises interruptions (like incoming phone calls). Dirty little secret – sometimes I’ll even let unplanned phone calls from FAMILY MEMBERS go to voice mail because I don’t want to break workflow (yes, I do feel a bit guilty about that….).
Scheduled phone calls – no problem. Scheduled face-to-face meetings – awesome. A text out of the blue requiring an immediate response – the resentment meter pegs out. Control freak much? Yep – I own it.
Yet, others thrive on reactive mode. Adjusting on-the-fly – it’s all good. Just call and chat.
In recent weeks I’ve been dealing with one colleague who seems fairly unresponsive to email, but who likes to have face-to-face meetings in order to move the ball forward. So I have to adjust my expectations and work with that mode.
Have you ever had the experience of forwarding a ton of information to someone over weeks and months, and then discovering that they’ve essentially processed none of it? But then a 5-minute conversation breaks the whole thing open. This has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. We can’t assume that real communication has actually happened in any attempted information exchange.
My advice – get in touch with your communication preferences, and don’t hesitate to let others know. You want to get your point across as efficiently and effectively as possible, and that means knowing your style, and figuring out how other people process information as well.
Just don’t call me with your results. Email me. Then we can set up a phone call! :>)