I recently read an article about creating an operations manual about yourself for others. It got me thinking what are the unwritten communication rules we have for ourselves and others in business? Essentially the idea was that you, the Manager/Supervisor/CEO/Owner create a tool to inform people how YOU work best, and how others can best communicate with YOU. This is an interesting idea and could be an incredible practice to really take note about how others communicate with us and what is effective or ineffective for us. BUT what if we took the focus off ourselves?

What If ?

What if we took this level of care and attention not to tell others how they should communicate with us, but to ask others how they would like to be communicated with? 

What if we asked our clients, our friends, our family, our parents; “How would you like me to connect with you? Do you prefer text, email, Facebook Messenger, phone calls …”.

What if we asked people to rank their communication method preference, instead of assuming what is most effective for someone?

What if we simply considered what was best for them instead of what is EASIEST for me? When someone hands you a business card with multiple streams of contact; what if we asked what their preferred communication method is? I know I never done this, my first instinct has always been about what is comfortable for me, what is convenient for me? But what if, what is convenient for myself may not be convenient or comfortable for others.

Would this not be an effective use of time if we were to ask some of these questions which allowed others to then respond more quickly, feel more cared for, and improved the communication relationship between both parties? WHAT IF these ‘what if‘ statements and questions increased communication?

What are the best practices for when and how to communicate?

In this digital age there are many communication options, but what each person prefers is different. Therefore, what is effective for each person is also very different. When and how should each communication method be used? Are there written rules somewhere, or maybe unwritten rules that some people know but not everyone? What rules are we breaking and driving others crazy? What method is effective or ineffective and why? An instrumental part of communication is collaboration, the concept of ideas going back and forth between a minimum of two parties to create a well-rounded and fully formed idea.

What do you think?

Below are some of my thoughts (I am pretty opinionated sometimes so I guess you could call them opinions) on various communication methods and when + how to use them. I would love to know what you think! These thoughts of mine are definitely not a rule, because I do know that what works for me doesn’t necessarily work best for others. You can comment on this post or connect with me on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or fill out the contact form and let me know when you’d like to stop by for coffee and we can chat more about your thoughts on this subject.

Text Message

Smartphone on yellow background with text bubbles around. Messaging, texting and connection concept
  • Best times: between the hours of 8am – 9pm.
  • Purpose: short quick messages that don’t need a lot of thought and can be responded to with a short quick message back.
  • Qualifiers: Less than 3 sentences, typically, because typing long messages on a phone is a “painful” process for some.

Social Media

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  • When: Anytime, for pretty much anything.
  • I love social media groups and private messages.
    • I feel like anytime or place that works for me is appropriate for me to send a message or respond to a message. I feel no pressure to respond quickly, and I have no expectation that others do either. (I say I am not a millennial, but in this sense I guess I kind of am).

Email

(I should clarify when I am talking about emails here I am thinking business to business emails).

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  • Emails are great for anytime communication.
    • For example: when I can’t sleep and decide to work at 2am. Email is perfect and I can set the email to go out at a set time.
  • Email is a great communication tool for almost anything.
    • Unless it requires a lot of back and forth and then I would prefer a more informal messenger or text communication).
  • Email is great for asking or providing an answer to in depth questions where the response requires some thought or detailed information.
    • Such as an attachment.
  • Email is also great for non urgent items.
    • If the message is urgent then I usually follow up with a text message or phone call.
  • Business email is great for asking someone outside of your organization to action something. Typically others in business have some sort of email management system that works for them so an email is a great way to follow up on a task request or make sure they have a reminder to complete a task
  • Email is a great tool to follow up on important conversations or meetings. It can be so valuable for both parties to send a follow up email reiterating either action items or decisions that were made in a meeting or in person or phone conversation to ensure there is clarity and follow up as needed.

Phone Calls
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  • When: Hours of 9am – 8pm
  • Purpose: for communicating complex ideas that may be misinterpreted, where tone and context are important, lengthy conversations that can sometimes just be easier than writing it out all out.
  • For asking quick but urgent questions such as “What kind of coffee cream do you want, I am at the store.”

Video Chat or In Person Communication

Video and In Person meetings are almost interchangeable in today’s time. So many people work remotely or are connecting with others across the world and in person meetings are often just not practical or feasible.

  • When: Scheduled, when it works for both people.
  • Purpose is to:
    • build authentic connection
    • are great for putting a face to a name
    • for communicating complex ideas (training, conflict resolution)
    • for when body language is vital or valuable.
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Did I miss anything? Do you agree/disagree? What other communication methods do you use? What do you use them for and how effective are they? I would love to hear from you.