I've taken a lot of seminars and courses in communication over the last 20 years, whether it was while I was in the Army, college or corporate time management training, the key item all 3 warn their students about is disruption. Disruption of your thought process, leads to poor communication. They all tell you that you need to set time aside each day for each type of work that you do. This includes strategic/long term thinking, operational work (getting things done that include your day to day job) and communication (phone calls (returning messages) answering emails, twitter, SMS, social media status updates -whatever forms you have). You can see that the list of communications options is really getting a bit crazy - and most of them have great potential to interrupt your other efforts. Let's look at the list one more time - just to make sure we are really taking into account everything you have that is making noise during your day to interrupt your train of thought:
- Phone Calls (office phone)
- Phone Calls (cell phone)
- SMS/Text Messages (cell phone)
- Email (notification from your pc/mac)
- Email (blackberry/iPhone)
- Twitter (tweetdeck, etc)
- Instant Messaging
The result is that you may be sending out requests for information in order to do your job better, but then not responding back to others, because you have so many other devices vying for your attention. The basic principles of time management still apply. You need to create discipline into each device and know exactly how and when you are going to respond to each one. I'm sure many will say 'they are all important things I'm waiting to get status on!!" The problem is that if everything is imprtant, then nothing is important. Important by definition indicates that it stands out from the other items.
These new forms of communication are arriving in front of us much faster than we can adapt, as a society, and the result is that a lot more falls through the cracks of our own personal customer service. It's easy to want to be all things to all people, all the time, but the reality is that success will come from effectively communicating expectations. When can you really get back to something. How often can you really watch the form of cummunication that you expect from that person. You even need to come to an agreement with each communiction goal you have, as to which form of communication will be the preferred method, so that you can determine what percentage of your time neeeds to be devoted to it (time management).
We can't avoid new forms of communication. Our business depends on communicating in the ways that our customers, bosses, and peers are the most effective, and adpting to them as quickly as we can (if our goal is customer service - which we mostly are). Just remember to be honest with yourself, determine how often you can really commit to that form of communication, and make sure to let others know what it is. Don't speak generally, be specific. Transparency is more than just open communication, it's also effective communication.
Photo Credit visions by kai