6 Tips for Effective Communication with Devisive Devices
Why the explosion in messaging choices is making us less sensitive about how we ‘talk’ to each other…
Ever get irritated by colleagues not answering your emails and other messages properly? Is it affecting how you’re able to do your job? Is it creating tension with co-workers? Is our new reality of working on the move actually creating more problems than it set out to solve?
We’re in a unique era and it only started 25 years ago. The spectrum of personal and workplace communication devices and methods/apps has never been so vast. It’s great for consumerism, but with everyone switching between platforms, laptops, phones or tablets and on top of that, all favouring different messaging methods, some curious new work life issues have emerged. Whether you’re self-employed or working in a large company, working styles have never been so divisive!
You send an important work email with five action points or questions which all need proper attention. A tired ‘always on’ colleague is reading your carefully constructed note late at night on their phone (or worse, calls you when they’re driving) when you’d assumed they’d be calmly reading it during office hours, at their desk with their full concentration. Their way of responding not only feels like an insult but it fails to acknowledge much of the content or the issues the content might raise. Although they follow up the next day, you know they still haven’t given it the attention it needs and probably never will.
Or, you’re a huge fan of apps like Slack or Basecamp and you think it saves lots of emails because everyone can see at a glance what progress has been made in a project or what issues still need solving. But some colleagues fail to use it properly, carrying on sending ‘emails to all’ and it drives you nuts!
Why does it matter?
It can feel so personal when communication styles clash. Their style isn’t your style and never will be, so how should you behave when they don’t respond as you expect? It’s so easy to get annoyed when a co-worker consistently prefers texting or using WhatsApp when you like (need) to see it in an email or talk through the issue. The most frustrating thing for me is when I use WhatsApp for something urgent and I can see they’ve read it (2 ticks!) and NOTHING. How rude! Or is it?
Let’s demystify it. It all comes down to our very personal preferences and also our values. I know I keep talking about these but if we don’t take time to recognise our deep-rooted values and beliefs about life, we won’t hold the keys to relieving tension and conflict when they arise. When it comes to communicating at work, some people value speed, brevity and quick results and others favour conversation, reflection and empathy for what motivates others to perform. Both ways are great in different situations. It’s also true that some people categorise WhatsApp ‘for urgent matters’ (like me) whilst others categorise it ‘for friends’. So inherently, the responses will be different.
Our values are at the root of everything we do and say. They’re formed in childhood and they affect our behaviour patterns and our instinctive responses under pressure. They also affect the neuro-linguistic choices we make about giving and receiving info. Not only are we divided by audio, visual or kinesthetic styles, but now have the digital dimension to contend with too. So how can we better resolve communication issues knowing that there are all those different factors at work? Have a look at some of my communication tips below: