It could be argued that the art of communication is dead – many people who are awash with emails, tweets, social networking messages would probably disagree. However, this deluge of communication is not always effective – some people appear to believe that because they have sent an email (or many emails), or updated a profile on a social networking site that this is effective communication.
Effective communication should result in one party conveying meaning to another party, so that they can understand the message and act upon it appropriately, if required.
If communication does not fulfil this requirement, why bother?
Rapid responses and forwarded emails to multiple recipients generally are not effective – the recipients may not know who should respond, “Reply to all” messages mean all parties to the mail can get deluged with responses, when they perhaps only should be aware of the last message in a debate.
Before email, we were reliant on snail mail, telephone and face-to-face conversations. The latter two gave immediate feedback about the communication and whether a message had been understood. The former took time, so people tended to take time to ensure that the meaning was correct. Don’t get me wrong, email is not a bad thing, however, thoughtless use of email can result in poor communication.
Before communicating, it is worth considering:
- What do you want to achieve from the communication? Action or information
- Do you want action or a response? If so, is it clear who should respond?
- What is the best medium for communication? (Sometimes the phone can be best!)
- Who needs to receive the communication? Restrict circulation as much as possible
- What is the “tone” of the communication? If you are angry or emotional, don’t communicate until you have calmed down