Twenty six (i)

I listened as Saket, Tom and Yvonne talked about how written and spoken communication has become increasingly complex. We have so many ways to communicate now that picking the medium and format can be half the battle.

Yvonne refers to it as a chocolate box paradox where the choice is somewhat bewildering – rather than just diving in for instant gratification, investing time over selection can enhance the results significantly. I want the delicious praline rather than the insipid crème. I want the optimum medium and format of communication to exert the influence I need, rather than the easiest or most convenient medium and format, which may result in poor communication and zero influence. Or worse.

I admit to resorting to email in the past when face-to-face communication would have been preferable. Was it for convenience or the avoidance of an awkward situation? The latter dressed up as the former I think. Email isn’t the format for delicate, nuanced criticism, so little wonder then that the recipient thought me too blunt, blunting our relationship in consequence.

Yvonne says that effective written and spoken communication requires us to think about five dimensions:

The what? – the content; and not too little, or too much

The when? – timing can be (nearly) everything

The who? – precise selection of audience / recipients

The how? – choice of communications medium (eg, face-to-face, telephone, email, SMS, blog post)

And more how? – presentation style and structure.

Together we reeled off a dozen communications media in as many seconds. Consider these in combination with the other dimensions and you begin to understand why effective communication isn’t easy.

“The more people that get this, the more effective our team can be,” she concluded. Everyone’s in communications, I thought to myself.

Effective? My mind went back to my conversation with John (IT) where we mooted that the effectiveness of translating data into information and information into knowledge might be gauged by whether anyone changes what they would have done otherwise.