Don’t Be “A Tool” – Use the Right Communication Tool

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This is about how not to be considered “a tool” (i.e. loser).

With so many communication tools now at our fingertips, it’s tempting to use the fastest one when sending information to a colleague. After all, who wants to text when you can Twitter? Who wants to e-mail when you can text? Who wants to phone when you can e-mail?

With so many communication media instantly available however, it’s easy to overlook the importance of the message  and the receiver.  Depending upon the medium you choose, your message can result in dramatically different outcomes. For example, you may send an e-mail that you think is funny, but your colleague interprets your message as rude. Uh oh.

The next time you need to communicate something important, keep in mind that your choice of medium may affect how the receiver interprets your message because there is a major difference between words and meaning. Effective communication involves much more than words. To understand a message we also rely on visual, verbal and oral cues: facial expressions, body language, hand gestures and tone of voice. Each communication vehicle has the ability to convey these cues to varying degrees. Thus it’s important to marry the message with the appropriate vehicle.

For example, if you are communicating straightforward facts, then electronic media would likely clearly communicate your message. However, if you want to communicate strong feelings, convey a criticism or impart complex information, then phone or face-to-face communication is more appropriate because these provide the other party with additional visual and oral cues that help to interpret the meaning of your message.

Of course you should also keep in mind the recipient’s comfort level with a particular communication medium before sending a message. You may love e-mail, but if the other person prefers the phone, it’s important to accommodate that individual’s preferences if you want to communicate effectively.

When you have something important to convey, the more social cues you can provide – hearing your voice or seeing your face – the clearer your meaning is likely to be. And the other person won’t think you’re “a tool.”    🙂

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