When It Comes To Communication Style, The Medium Is the Method
Quick: You need an employee to do you a favor. Do you send them an email, call their extension, or pop by their office? In today's fast-paced world there is no shortage of communication tools at your disposal. There are emails, instant messages, video conferences, telephone calls, text messages, and of course, "old fashioned" face to face interactions. Often, we choose the medium that is most convenient at that moment, but that medium says a lot about your intent for the conversation.
Written Communication: Just the Facts, Ma'am
Thanks to our growing dependence on technology, most of us have become extremely comfortable with text-based, digital communication. It's easier to send a text or an email rather than have a long conversation. There's certainly nothing wrong with emails and memos, but written communication is the lowest form of interaction. To put it bluntly, sending a text message is literally the least you can do and written communication should only be used when communicating facts or information.
When NOT to write: Text-based communication is best for distributing information and fact. If you want to build a relationship, offer feedback, or engage in a debate, step away from the keyboard.
Pick Up The Phone: Getting To Know More About You
Telephone and video conferencing are the next step up from written communication and add a little bit of personality to your interaction. You can hear the person's tone (there's no mistaking the sound of sarcasm), and you can get a sense of the emotion and intent behind their words. Personal phone calls can elevate a relationship to a higher level.
Sometimes, the telephone is the only practical option you have. Dealing with long-distance customers on a regular basis or managing a virtual workforce requires a great deal of telephone and video conferencing.
Before You Dial The Phone: Consider the purpose of your interaction. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Would you want to hear what you are about to say over the phone?
Face-To-Face Communication: The Cornerstone Of A Strong Relationship
Face to face is the granddaddy of communication. When you are sitting across from another person, you can absorb what is being said, you are able to read body language and form a true connection. Personal interactions are the only way to establish a real relationship with another person, and they are the ideal way to work through potential conflict, reach a desired outcome, and communicate potentially difficult or damaging information.
It's Not About What's Easiest For You: It might be simple to send an email or pick up the phone, but put yourself in the other person's shoes. Grant your colleagues, customers and co-workers the respect you would expect from them, if the tables were turned.
Put A Little "Personal" Into Your Professional Relationships
When choosing a communications medium, it is essential to consider your desired outcome. If you need to communicate a basic agenda change in weekly staff meetings, an email is ok. If you need to reach out to a long-term client to explain a very small change in contract terms coming up in the next quarter, a phone call is appropriate. When negotiating a large contract, attempting to woo a potential new top-level job candidate, or coaching someone on your team to better performance, face to face interactions are ideal.
Personal interactions take business relationships to the next level. Whether you are dealing with customers, partners, colleagues or employees, face-to-face conversations break down barriers and build the cornerstone for a healthy and productive professional relationship.