Communicating How We Should Communicate
According to the dictionary, the word “communicate,” used as a verb without an object means: “to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc. They communicate with each other every day.” It also means, “to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively.”
It’s that “easily or effectively” that will snag you every time if you’re not clear about the HOW TO of communicating.
Why? Because while Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” it seems that today there are so many media by which to communicate the message that we often miss the message completely.
Recently someone complained to me that he wasn't getting time sensitive information in time to respond appropriately. I asked whether he told the sender how he prefers to receive information. His answer was that he hadn't. So who's to blame? The sender used his preferred method, email, not knowing that the recipient checked his emails infrequently. As a result, time sensitive information wasn't being responded to on time, thus creating the conundrum about how to communicate effectively, not with words, but the medium over which to send it.
A previous post I wrote called, “The Shortcomings of Relying on Facebook as an Email Venue,” has to do with not connecting with someone who used Facebook's direct messaging to change an appointment. This is symptomatic of the problem of having so many channels through which to connect that we’re not connecting with each other at all.
So what’s the answer to the questions about whether you should send someone a DM, an SSM, an email, or pick up the phone and call?
When we exchange contact information with someone should we ask and then put a star next to the preferred way to reach them? When I say, “My phone number finds me wherever I am,” It might be the best answer. But wait, that doesn’t work well either; my land line is the only number I give out; it forwards to my cell phone, but if someone doesn’t know this and sends a text to me on that number, I won’t get their message, and they won’t know that I haven’t.
It seems that communicating about how to effectively communicate takes an entire communication in and of itself. And that’s a sentence that just used the word “communicate” three different ways. See how complicated this can get!
Image courtesy of themeanings.com