E-mailing and Instant Messaging have become the preferred method of communication. The vast majority of people really don’t like ‘talking’ to each other. While E-Mail and IM have their place, it has had a negative impact on the quality of communication that is necessary to keep projects on track.
So, when it comes to communication, keep these three suggestions in mind:
If an E-mail or Instant Message Will Do, Call Them on the Phone
As great as E-mail is, it is many times used as a Communications Avoidance Tool. The reasoning is that if I can ‘transact’ with this person via E-mail, then I can avoid a conversation that may take time out of my already double-booked schedule. A large part of Project Management is about building relationships and you’ll be surprised how far a couple minutes on the phone will help toward accomplishing that goal.
If a Phone Call Will Do, Go See Them in Person
Sometimes a phone call is necessary to get something done such as escalating an issue or stressing the importance of meeting a critical date. This is a great opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and see that person face-to-face. This may mean walking down the hall, going to a different floor or maybe even a different building.
It sounds funny to call out the fact that we may need to walk down the hall, go to a different floor, etc.; however, I have seen people transact their entire business life without ever leaving their cube or office. If it’s important enough for you to get out of your comfort zone, it will rank higher on the other persons list to help you accomplish what you need to get done.
If Seeing Them in Person Will Do, Spend a Little More Time With Them
Sometimes, what is needed is a face-to-face meeting. Put yourself on the receiving end of some of those meetings. Have you ever felt as if you are just another Task in that person’s To-Do list that needs to be checked off for the day? Finish report (check), Book Travel (check), Talk to (INSERT your name here your) (check). You walk away from that meeting feeling empty.
When meeting with someone, the word to keep in mind is ENGAGE. Engage means to involve oneself or become occupied; participate. Close the laptop, turn the PDA to silent, stop answering emails, stop thinking about your next meeting, and stop answering phone calls. Tell the person you are “engaging” with more than they need to know, ask them questions, tell them the reasoning behind decisions, and listen to them.