Many meaningless conversations

    One of the root causes of our annual engagement survey sounds like this. On the one hand, this is a global trend: we increasingly like delayed communication of text and voice messages. And on the other, the problem is the quality of the text. Literacy of the formulation of questions and answers by e-mail, knowledge of the tools of e-mail programs is a separate important business skill. Here, soft skills trainings, public recommendations and the experience of colleagues come to the rescue. It remains only to bring focus. But I suggest thinking about the benefits of interactive communication.


    Sokr personal space

    At the interview on the basis of the trial period, my new employee said that she understood and liked everything, except for one thing: too much correspondence. “After all, it’s much easier,” she said, “to approach a person and discuss the matter by voice.” This is her first big company.

    What happened? Why did we suddenly begin to believe that a call is not a joy of communication and a technological miracle, but an ugly invasion of personal space? Did psychologists think that their advertising campaign of “private zones” would lead to a massive mute on mobile phones?

    Undoubtedly, the ecology of personal space is valuable. There was so much information and communication opportunities that they themselves ceased to bring joy. Therefore, messengers with their postponement (text, sound) - this is definitely a useful option. But there is one “but.” The postponement is good just in the personal space: at home, on vacation, at lunch. But not work. Here are other environmental criteria.

    Working hours are the hours you sold the company. And at this time, your phone, especially if it is paid by the company, should be turned on and in demand. In addition, online communication is one of the most effective tools created (and improved so far) for solving work tasks.

    Oh good tone

    What is it? On the one hand, our devices are developing more and more services to help us go underground. And on the other hand, the ethics around them have not yet had time to form and everyone chooses in which cases he needs to call back after an unanswered call ...

    But what if we formulate several recommendations and offer them for corporate use? The rules of communication that are clear and the same for everyone, as you know, make it more productive.

    In addition to the postal ethics, which have already been strengthened in our company , I propose:

    Recommendation No. 1.Telephone is the same means of working communication as e-mail. Voice communication in Lynk, Skype, sms, Whatsapp, Telegram - everything that is used by members of your team, workgroup, your leadership and subordinates should be used by you. Agree with the working group which channel you use to resolve urgent issues. Let in this arrangement there will be not only e-mail and the rule of the included sound during the working day.

    Every year we hold awards to the best employees: a large and solemn event. The organizers - our HR - are coordinated in real time at Telegram.


    Recommendation No. 2. Yes, a phone call is now difficult. How to remain polite, but solve an urgent task or a question that is “easier to explain by voice”? The easiest solution is to agree on the time of the call. If the urgency is “second level”, then this can be done in writing using e-mail or a messenger associated with the number. If he doesn’t wait, then verbally: “Is it convenient to speak now?” Or “Urgent question. Have a couple of minutes? .. And when to call back? ”

    What is not written does not exist

    One project manager, well known to me, begins his morning with calls to customers and comments on them along the way: “Well, this comrade only talks to everyone on the phone. And then: oops, I didn’t say that! And he is right: that which is not written does not exist! ”

    Yes, that’s exactly what we are taught at management trainings: be sure to fix everything in writing, this improves manageability. And this is a very good rule, but until it becomes the end point of the development of events: communication = e-mail. The simplest thing for us, busy introverts, is to transfer all working communication to mail. And up to a point this is normal. Until the term “critical mass” is included, and the quantity ceases to pass into quality.

    Colleagues, you are right: that which is not written does not exist. Therefore, be sure to record the results of “live” communication. A letter in the form of meeting notes, a smart task, a sticker in TFS or Jira. Let this be recommendation number 3 .

    Stuck, rule of three letters, distributed teams

    Sometimes it seems to us that our decision is beautiful or obvious, and our colleagues will enthusiastically agree. Or we expect the answer to the question to be short and quick. And we are writing a letter. One, second, third. In response, either silence, or clarifying questions, or open comments - all this does not give any chance to delete an item from the to-do list. But by inertia we continue to click reply. And we can’t meet fellow recipients at the coffee machine, because they are several thousand kilometers from us. I am sure that the situation is familiar.

    And in such a situation, it is important to remember other ways of communication. Quick questions can be clarified immediately by voice in the chat, and then, if necessary, assign a general call and knock out the results. Because:

    1. Live communication allows you to truly discuss the problem. It is to discuss, not to "describe." Ideas that can turn into solutions in an interactive polylogue are a miracle! And many of us are too lazy to write all our thoughts on the topic. At first glance, they may seem unimportant, but in fact they can highlight the problem from an interesting perspective. The argument, intonation, expressive silence, petty remarks - all this allows us to see the subject of discussion in a new way.

    2. Online communication makes it possible to build more comfortable relationships with colleagues from other offices, which means to increase the effectiveness of a distributed team. If you are part of it, try to use your phone or Skype more often: mail and instant messengers make it impossible for you to build personal relationships with colleagues. The ideal way is a video call.

    3. Deadline in the form of a call encourages recipients to join the question. In some cases, written deferred communication is a legitimate way to “drain” a problem, defer, or ignore it: if the recipient is “one of” or the response dates are blurred. An invitation to interactive communication in this case may be the only opportunity to move on the issue.

    4. A conversation many times faster allows you to find out what was really meant. This property of interactive communication is especially relevant in a situation of conflict or its maturation. If you feel that the correspondence is "annoying", call, invite for coffee.

    Recommendation No. 4. Do not write short letters with short simple questions. They are definitely easier to solve via any of the interactive channels: phone, chat, video call. Example: “Can you share a presentation from your training?” “Yes.” “Can you see you tonight?”

    Recommendation No. 5. If you are already sending the third letter on the issue, and it does not become decisive, think: it may be worth stopping the correspondence and organizing “live” communication. And return to e-mail already in the form of ready-made solutions.

    Recommendation No. 6. If there are colleagues in your working group whom you have not seen for a long time, and maybe not even once, then it's time to choose an oral conversation instead of e-mail. Yes, record the results. But the effect of “dating by voice”, and even more so in video mode, is difficult to overestimate.


    We got 7 situations when it makes sense to leave the correspondence online. Is there anything to add?


    Yes, translating texts into verbal communication, we run the risk of reinforcing “a lot of meaningless meetings.” And this is a story about another communication skill that is critical for any business.

    In our company, the ability to effectively conduct meetings is taught on the course "How to conduct business meetings and conference calls." Key phrases in it: “3 minutes per call”, “I do not play the deaf phone”, agenda, MN, presenter of the call.

    And what rules do you follow when choosing a communication tool?

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