Best Communication

RSS Author RSS     Views:N/A
Bookmark and Share          Republish
Today's technology has provided us with so many forms of communication that we often grab for the nearest gadget without asking an important question, "What gadget is best?" Or, in more formal terms, "What is the most effective method of communicating for this situation?"
Should you make a telephone call, or would it be better to visit in person? Should you whip off a quick email message or type a formal letter? What about a fax? Should you page the person and have him/her return your call? Is it acceptable to call this person from your wireless phone? Do you need to schedule an in-person meeting or would a videoconference be more efficient? Do you need to arrange a teleconference or will three-way calling suffice? Should you call the other person on his/her wireless phone?
Technology offers many options for communicating. To be effective, you want to make the right choice.
Start by considering your audience. If an employee hates email, don't use it to convey bad news. If a client dislikes wireless phones, don't call him/her from yours. If your boss is annoyed by pagers, don't page him/her unless it's vital.

Ask yourself, is it acceptable if there is a lag time between when the message is sent and when it is received? Be careful when determining what is "quick" communication.
For example, email isn't necessarily fast. Simply because email is sent instantaneously doesn't mean it's received that quickly. Some people only check their email once a day or once a week.
Regular mail is notorious for being slow. There's a reason it's nicknamed "snail mail." If you have a quick question or need a clarification, pick up the telephone or walk across the hall. Hey, the exercise is good for you!
Is there a chance the communication could be misunderstood or misinterpreted? Face-to-face contact allows you to obtain valuable non-verbal feedback. And, you can receive this feedback immediately and in mid-sentence, instead of waiting until you've sent an entire document, only to discover you're on the wrong track. Remember, too, that a videoconference is another way to achieve face-to-face contact. On the other hand, if you're communicating numbers, financial data, or complicated information, put it in writing. This will help you avoid miscommunication or confusion.

Are you having trouble building a relationship? Whether the person is a co-worker or a new client, look for the most personable methods of communicating. Make a telephone call, or pay a personal visit.
Is the appearance of the letter or proposal important? If a potential client will be making ten copies of your proposal and distributing it to the Board of Directors, don't fax it. Consider sending the copy via regular mail - in a flat envelope.
What is the volume of information that is being communicated? Faxes are best suited for sending brief pieces of information.
Does the communication require input from several people, or are you brainstorming ideas? If so, consider a face-to-face meeting or a teleconference. That way, everyone can participate at once.
If you need time to think about your reply, avoid the telephone. By using a written format, such as a letter, email, or fax, you have time to consider the matter. Also, if a client is asking detailed pricing questions, you can eliminate confusion (and protect yourself) by putting it in writing.
Is the receiver in a different time zone than you are? Maybe you are ready to leave the office, but you want to send information about an order. If the client is three time zones away, a fax or email will reach him/her more effectively than a phone call.
Finally, in this age of technological gadgets, don't underestimate the power of a hand-written note. That's one way to let employees know you appreciate them or to stand out among the competition. How many of your competitors will take the time to hand write a note to a potential client?
Use today's technology to your advantage. Don't sabotage your message by choosing the wrong method of communicating it. Make a conscious decision about the most effective medium for your situation.

Report this article
This article is free for republishing

Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article