Does The Mode of Communication Matter?

Communication is at the heart of all things in life... finding the love of your life, raising a round of financing, getting a promotion, or enjoying life with friends and family. Some of those communications are obviously more critical than others and some are more time sensative than others as well.

Living in a world where corporate training dollars fuels the research and instruction that permeates our training attention we are all well aware of the communication styles that research such as Myers-Briggs brings us. This is good and we all make efforts to adjust what we are saying depending on the type of person we are talking to (more data/less data, small talk/straight to the point, etc.). All of this focus on communication style seems to skip the relevance of communcation mode. The problem with not focusing on communication mode at all is that the mode of communication matters just as much or more than communciation stye!!

What do I mean by communication mode? Well the actual method of transmitting the message. Is it via phone, twitter, email, text, ?? This method of transmission matters - a lot. Everyone has their preferred mode of communication and when you are trying to land a message neatly in someone's lap, choosing the wrong mode or decidedly shutting down a mode can make that landing near impossible. Personally my favorite mode is email. Email has been the best way for me to communicate for what seems like my entire life. I can still vividly remember being in my High School computer lab as a kid feverishly typing up emails to everyone. My parents had email accounts, and being a child of divorced parents I found email as a necessary tool to communicate with them. It gave me a level of separation that I didn't have to worry about. In fact I remember one of those classes, I spent nearly the whole class typing one email to my Mom - telling her my girlfriend (now ex-wife) at the time was pregnant with my first son. Yeah I know, kind of a crappy way to break the news. Clearly I wasn't thinking of my Mom and how she might best react to the message I was trying to transmit to her. I was being a bit selfish and focusing on the fact that I didn't want to face her in person. Being a great Mom though, she adapted to my need to communicate over email at first and responded with an email herself. Her email response was the best thing she could have done to make the transition to an in-person discussion a possibility. We ultimately did change modes to a more mature mode of communication for a topic like teen fatherhood, but it would have been difficult without my Mom recognizing what I needed from a communication mode perspective.

Granted, I didn't learn this lesson back then when my Mom taught it to me. It took me years to learn! I thought that since that worked so well, I could rely on email for all my communications. Regardless of the other person's desire to communicate in other modes. This haunted me throughout my life without me knowing it. I had difficulty closing sales, raising funding, and getting promoted. Eventually I learned that communication mode and considering how the other person wants to receive the message is just as important as the communication style. Certainly the message itself is a much bigger topic that I'll leave for another time to talk about.

Here is a short presentation I recently gave regarding the art of communication and the importance of communication mode. Of course without the recording it is not as valuable as it could be - happy to redeliver it for you if are interested...

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  1. Pingback: What You Say Matters | Josh Maher's Blog

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