Have you fallen into the trap of what I call ‘easy communication’? Do you rely on sending emails, SMS (text) messages, Facebook or Google Plus messages or even Tweets to connect with the people in your life – customers and family alike? Do you sometimes feel like you’re being ignored?
I know that I have – and it’s something that I’m aware I need to review and change my modus operandii and work on my communication skills.
There is a part of me that really dislikes having phone conversations… to me, the phone is often just a distraction to getting things done. I much prefer the flexibility of email and being able to respond in the wee hours of morning, when everything else is done. However, recently I realised (again) that there is a point where a quick phone call can be far more beneficial than an unending email stream.
Communications via Email Work – but what about Phone Calls?
Email, Text Messaging, Electronic Messaging and Social Media are fantastic inventions – they allow us to keep in touch with our connections and for them to keep in touch with us. However, they also de personalise the nature of that communication to a certain degree and often the communication can be “lost in the noise” of the day to day.
There’s also the fact that these methods of communication, or protocols, are connectionless. Whilst we can send a message to the recipient, there is no guarantee that it will actually get there – the message is sent into the ether and we assume it will just get there. How many times have you sent a message and not heard anything back? Do you think the recipient doesn’t care or that they’re too busy to talk to you? That could be the case – but I think you may find that sometimes the message just doesn’t get through – it is either lost in the ether or buried in a mound of other messages.
Then there is there the fact that written communications fails because it simply takes too many exchanges to impart (and understand) the required information. Of course, we also have to consider the communication styles of the parties involved.
We operate a helpdesk that relies on email communications – it’s important to have a documented stream of information for review – but it’s equally as important to be able to find and impart information to all parties quickly. There are exchanges where our terminology or understanding of the words used differs, or we don’t know the ‘right’ words to use. In these cases written exchanges (and imagine when we’re trying to do these in 140 characters or less!) just let us down.
At these times, why don’t we simply pick up the phone and talk to the other party? Certainly, organising a convenient time to to talk can be a challenge and language differences are a bigger challenge – but taking time to actually talk to someone is often well worth the effort.
If you are sending emails, text messages or other messages and not receiving a response – why not give the other party a call? Sometimes, they may not have got your message; sometimes, your message could just be stuck in a heap of incoming messages and just not seen (sure, that may be be a management issue); sometimes your contact may be trying to formulate the appropriate response to your communication…. whichever it is – a follow up phone call will get to the bottom of it, and probably move your agenda forward.
Phone Calls can speed up your process
From my own experience, I know that a 15 minute phone call with a client will often give both of us the information needed to move forward. Just last week, after a few email exchanges with a really good client, we decided that a phone call would be appropriate – by the time we were done, it was over an hour but we had covered a heap of stuff. I’m not recommending that each call be an hour or more – keep it short if you can – but for this client with this project, the time was well worth spent.
Of course, we need to make sure that I document the main points of the phone call back to the job in my tracking system – but it’s still worth the effort.
This is all part of an effective communication strategy for everyone….
Now, this doesn’t mean you should pick up the phone each time you have a question. An email, text message, Facebook or GTalk message to:
- ask the question,
- raise the issue,
- frame the problem
and then suggest that a phone (or in person) catch up may be appropriate.
What do you think? Share your thoughts below….