Message + Channel = What You Hopefully Meant to Say
Technology has created channels to easily push your message out.
My daughters play high school varsity softball—although with the spring we're having, they've yet to play a game and have postponements crowded into the calendar.
A text from my daughters' softball coach combined with an email saying tonight's game is postponed tells me quickly not to go to the ballpark after I leave the office. While the deluge of rain and sleet hint that no one will be at the ballpark, those of you who have played outdoor sports/have kids who do know that nothing is official until the game is called. That text and email give me a quick update, saved me the time of driving out of my way and tell me to quickly come up with a "Plan B" dinner idea. There's probably no better, more efficient way to communicate that news.
However, it seems more and more that we're misusing electronic communication when phone or personal contact would be the better choice.
- If there is bad news or potential conflict—an order that won't be on time, perhaps—how often do we put it into an email rather than picking up the phone? Sure, we don't need to hear the upset reaction immediately. However, we've provided time for the recipient to think about the issue, become more unhappy and potentially creating a reaction that will be much stronger when we do make contact.
- Leaving a voice message is great when someone isn't available and it's better to talk. When someone calls you and leaves a voice message, take the time to actually listen to the message before responding. That message you delete without listening would have told you that they're unavailable to speak today, but may offer some alternative times. Simply taking a few seconds to listen could save you a day of frustration.
- We know that social media is huge for mass communication, rallying individuals and building brands. Professionally, Facebook has helped us embrace those outside of our organization with our culture, strengthening relationships on a different level. Mixing professional and personal communications on this channel has its challenges. You may learn information that shouldn't have been aired on a public forum. Regardless of what you're posting/commenting on/liking, take a second to ask yourself: Will my doing so improve or diminish my personal brand in the eyes of my customers, my colleagues, and my family?
Every communication channel has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the situation. Used properly alone or in combination, you have the recipe for effectively getting your message across.