In the modern workplace, the variety of communication methods are seemingly endless; text, instant messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, email, phone, and dare I say it “face to face conversation”. When there are so many ways to communicate with your team, it is important to remember that not all methods of communication are created equal. Some methods are of greater value in terms of creating connection, and in most cases, these methods, when evaluated, work out to have a lower cost to the organisation and a better outcome for personal connection between co-workers.
The value of a text or instant message in developing and maintaining a connection with a colleague is basically useless, and can, in fact, have a detrimental effect on the relationship if care is not taken in the words chosen. We are increasingly relying on written communication and the quicker, the better. We are actively leaning towards methods of communication that reduce connection between colleagues, which is essential to create an engaged team. On any given day, we are bombarded with people having “just a quick question” pinged onto our screen and even the most disciplined of us will find that distracting at best or downright annoying. Receiving such a message whilst we are trying to deliver a report to a deadline or in the middle of something requiring attention to detail affects our productivity.
A study at UCLA indicated that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues, indicating that face to face communication is of greater value than phone or written communication. Interestingly, face to face video link is considered by psychology associations to be equally valid for the methods of assessment and clinical evaluations. This can be considered reassuring in times where remote working is essential or if you have a geographically dispersed team.
The perception is, it takes more time to talk, but in reality, the act of conversing will enable all questions to be asked and answered in one sitting as opposed to an email trail that can continue for days, miraculously adding more and more people to the tumbleweed, eating into an increasing list of employee’s time and inbox capacity. Setting up a quick 10 meeting with someone in their diary will:
a) ensure that they are present and ready for the meeting and;
b) provide an opportunity for a quality conversation to increase social connection between the colleagues.
In most cases, this will be a lot more productive and meaningful than engaging in an instant message or email trail.
The value that is derived by taking time to consider the needs of the other parties in the conversation is considerable. It is important to recognise that engaging with someone when you are both fully present and focusing on the task at hand is a valuable endeavour and increases productivity.