It’s Alyssa this week, continuing the theme of things that are okay.

Growing up, when my friends would ask me what my dad did for a living I had a prepared response. I would say something along the lines of, “He’s a business advisor. He travels four or five days a week, but he’s always home on the weekend.” I usually had to answer some other questions about what it was like with him being gone so much, but I never minded. To me, it was normal.

In fact, it’s always been my normal. My dad travels a lot and that’s okay—especially now that I’m able to understand why.

Communication Takes Work

Effective communication is really a series of decisions. Deciding what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, and how you’ll deliver it. The delivery is just as important as the message as it dictates opportunities for feedback, influences how the message is received and determines how long information sharing will take.

In a world where there are more communication methods available than ever, decisions around communication become more complex. It’s for this reason so much of Thoughtwave is about awareness–of yourself and others. When we’re aware of how we naturally communicate, we’re better able to converse with others. However, we must also be aware of the limitations of each delivery method we use to communicate.

The endless communication channels available to you and your employees impact your business productivity and performance greatly.

Common communication channels:

  • Phone
  • Video conferencing
  • Text message
  • Slack/chat
  • Company intranet
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Face-to-face

How much of your time is spent attending to your inbox? Should all of the topics covered in the emails you’ve already opened this morning have been sent over email? I’d be willing to bet the answer is no.

More than talking to someone, communication is about feedback. So when it comes to choosing the proper communication method, assessing the required or anticipated feedback becomes more important.

One of the easiest ways to break down the differences in communication options in terms of feedback is by categorizing the channels as synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous:
Synchronous methods allow for instantaneous feedback and require a response on the spot. Channels like phone, video conferencing, and face-to-face where feedback is rapidly given and received are great examples of synchronous communication. With these methods, all of the communication is happening in real-time.

Asynchronous:
When you opt for an asynchronous channel, feedback isn’t guaranteed right away. Email and text messages are great examples of asynchronous communication methods. The communication or information sharing doesn’t have to be concluded in one sitting and it gives people time to formulate a response.

Think about it: How often do you check your email? We’d never get any work done if we sat around responding to emails the exact minute they came in. Alternatively, how often do you forget to text someone back right away? Just ask my dad, he knows if he texts me on the weekend, I’m out on my bike enjoying Austin and likely won’t respond until Monday.

Advancements in asynchronous technologies with the development of email and now Slack (company chat), have certainly increased productivity and added value. However, when the incorrect channel is used, digital conflict is much harder to resolve.

If we’re being honest, no matter how hard we try to convey the proper tone in an email, it’s not always easy. We can’t predict with certainty that how someone reads our writing will have the desired effect. If you find yourself in a situation where what you’re saying could easily be misconstrued or require follow-up questions, choosing one of the synchronous channels is likely the better option.

#Thoughtstarter

One of the best ways to avoid conflict and miscommunication due to delivery is to outline a process for what channels to use when.

It’s not uncommon for us to use these charts in customer support or even in sales and marketing, but we often forget to develop them for our internal operations. When an angry customer reaches out, does your support team instantly respond to the email? Or do you have a process in place to consider the nature of the complaint and choose the best solution?

Alternatively, many times the beginning of a sales cycle can be handled asynchronously, to generate demand, gain interest, and bring in leads. However, at some point, the conversation needs to elevate and so the communication method changes from email to phone to face-to-face.

You’d be surprised how many times a simple grid can help prevent the firing off of a reactionary email. When you’ve built choosing the right channel into your company culture, you demonstrate the value you place on effective communication and set expectations for purposeful communication.

Here’s a great snapshot from Gartner of what this could look like for your team.

My dad travels a lot and that’s okay—choosing the right channel for clients is imperative to success. As a business advisor, traveling frequently ensures he and his clients are transferring knowledge in the most productive way.

Make it a great week,
Alyssa

P.S. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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