Workplace Communication

Is it Time to Change The Channel?

When it comes to communicating a message, we have a lot of channels to choose from:

  • Face-to-face
  • Phone
  • Text messaging
  • Email
  • Skype/Facetime/GoToMeeting
  • And more!

With so many options, we sometimes choose the wrong channel for our message, resulting in miscommunication and sometimes conflict.

In fact, we’ve become so reliant on written forms of communication, such as text and email, that many of us think it’s okay to do all our communicating through these channels. As a result, too many people use email and texting as a way to avoid human interaction, or not face someone when delivering bad news or criticism.

When making the decision about HOW to communicate a message, ask yourself the following:

  1.  What’s the receiver’s preferred communication method? Using others’ preferred method, rather than your own, increases the chance of your message being received.
  2. How quickly does the information need to go out? If you have to get information to a large group of people quickly, email is probably faster than making a bunch of phone calls.
  3. Do I need a response quickly? If I need an immediate response, a phone call or text might be the way to go, especially if I know the other party doesn’t spend a lot of time at his or her desk.
  4. How complicated is the message? A complex message needs time to digest. At the same time, it may also generate a lot of questions. It may be best to send an email and follow up with a call or face-to-face, than to try to explain a complicated idea in a phone call.
  5. How likely is the message to be misinterpreted? If the likelihood is high, then it might be a good idea to meet face-to-face, or pick up the phone, than to send a written message. That way you can answer any questions and provide clarification.
  6. Is the information personal or is it bad news? If the answer is yes, you should probably deliver it face-to-face, or if that’s not possible, by phone.

This week, be sure to think before you hit, “SEND.”

Ask yourself, “Is this the best way for the receiver to get this message? Will this channel achieve my objective, or is there a better way? When you do, you’ll find that more of your messages are received not only quickly and efficiently, but in the spirit that you intended.

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