Is Your Team Connecting More But Communicating Less?

Connie Timpson  |  May 17, 2012
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Connected-More-Communicating-Less We connect 24/7, but that does not always mean that as a team, we are communicating, solving issues, trading, and team building.  If you truly want to communicate, you must take responsibility to make sure the message was understood.  If you have an important issue – say it in person.  And please realize that what you say into the ether can be captured, read, and re-released.

For the shy person, the Smart Phone is a dream come true.  No more face-to-face meetings.  Joy!  Unless the receiver doesn’t get the emotion that the sender hoped was in the message.  I cannot see your face, read your expression, body language, nor hear your tone of voice.  In short, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.  One little rule can help work relationships stay intact and on-track.

Take Responsibility For Clear Digital Communication

Voice mail – full, and who listens to the end? email – like junk mail in your mailbox, most can be tossed, but there may a bit of mail that could change your life.  Text messages – depends on the demographic of the two people involved.

There are a lot of ways to connect, but communicate?  According to the Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, “In 2011, the typical corporate email user sends and receives about 105 email messages per day.”  Three rules can help you sort it all out, and make fewer missteps.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “How to Lead Your Team Remotely“.

Use Face Time To Open Lines of Communication, and Build Relationships

A couple of days ago, the president of a major player in the health field told me that he often spends one full day flying, driving, driving, and flying, to spend 90 face-to-face minutes in front of his individual managers.  Without that, he said, it leaves too much to interpretation and the relationship can get disconnected.  If the relationship gets disconnected, the strategic goals of the company can be misinterpreted, or simply ignored by a manager who “wants to run his own show’, rather than being part of the team. Team building is much easier when you are face-to-face.

Nothing is more persuasive than a fully dimensional, thinking, breathing being sitting in front of you.  Your Mom said, “look at me while I am talking to you” for a reason.  Eye to eye and body language to body language is far more effective than the most well-crafted email roaming around the ether.

Email, texting, IM’s, Facebook, Linkedin – all, important tools of communication, all accessible by smartphone.  If, however, we largely rely on our smartphones to communicate for us – it can make us look not so smart.  We miss social cues, body language, and are not nearly as persuasive as we are when we can make straight on eye contact.  We sometimes use email, when we should be standing in front of the person, or talking by phone, to make sure the communication is understood.  If you rely solely on email to connect, it is highly likely that you did not communicate clearly.

Think Trash, Spam email overexposure-blindness, rather than “I sent him an email.  So of course he knows our call is at 3:00.”  Maybe.  Maybe not.   Maybe his smartphone fell out of his pocket on the last flight and he has no idea he is missing a conference call.

The Ether Can Be Tapped

Just because they do not see your face, does not mean you are anonymous or protected.  We slip up and say things in an email, or in a text that can be misconstrued, or that we don’t dare say, or can’t bring ourselves to say in person.  What people say in an email can even get them fired, like three Iowa civil rights employees who sent gossipy, and demeaning emails about colleagues and management, calling one “Teen Wolf” another “Psycho.”  Once the Associated Press found out – we all found out.  And I seriously doubt than anyone would call his or her boss a psycho to his face.

Thinking what you say, and do online, shouldn’t be a big deal.  Right?  I mean, you only sent it to one other person.  Who, and how, could anyone else get your information?  Oh, let me count the ways!  Then begin counting the lost jobs, lawsuits, expensive breakups, and perhaps most of all – the meanness and humiliation.

Just ask former Senator Anthony Weiner, who was so taken with his own underwear image – that he shared it in the cyber world!  It cost him his seat in Congress.  The world’s best golfer/husband/dad/role-model, fell from dizzying heights when Tiger Wood’s wife read his sexy texts to some of his sexiest “fans” and then took a nine iron to his car. The list of “stupidity hall of fame” grew longer when retiring football legend, Brett Farve put himself on the idiot list, by sharing naughty photos of himself with the ether.  Personal images, forever mired in Larry Flintish mud.  If they could only take it back!  But once it is out there, it’s out there!

If you want your life to be private don’t text it, sext it, tweet it, upload it, or write it and DON’T press SEND.

If you are sending an email – make sure it says what you think it says.  Follow up to make sure the receiver got it and understands.  If it is sensitive or really complex, make your case in person.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “Interpersonal Skills Definition and List“.

Watch for social cues; read my body language, facial expressions, and listen to my tone of voice.  If you do all of the things we’ve covered, you will communicate rather than just connect.

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Connie Timpson was an instructor for The Leader's Institute ® from 2008-2012. For more details, you can find her on LinkedIn.
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