When it comes to communication, we seem prone to overlook the fundamentals. To make sure others hear what we mean, we have to cover all the bases, and the first base to cover is to think about what we are about to say, or to proofread what we just wrote. Articulating a message clearly is a prerequisite to others hearing what we mean, and mentally proofreading our thoughts or physically proofreading our written words is the least we can do to make sure we are understood.
Another common mistake we make is our choice of communication medium. Anyone who knows me knows I have a To-Do-List, those who have known me for more than a minute or two know I also have a Not-To-Do-List. One of the things on my Not-To-Do-List is to never allow any important or consequential conversation to take place via text message.
The medium we choose for consequential conversations matters.
Many important and consequential conversations require body language and voice inflection to be a part of the conversation for the other party to hear what we mean, therefore must be done in person. Some just require voice inflection and can be done via a phone conversation, others require neither but need to be in writing, so could be a handwritten letter or even an email. Text in my opinion should never be used for meaningful and/or consequential conversations primarily because it lacks both body language and voice inflection, so it should only be used for inconsequential conversations like “What time are we meeting downstairs for dinner?”, or “Would you like to get together for coffee today at 9:00 AM CDT?”.
There is one other reason I think we should be careful when we choose text as our medium of communication, and that is that it simply lacks ’Read Later’ functionality (this changed a few months after this post was made). If I see your text, and it’s consequential, but I’m right in the middle of something important, or driving, I cannot mark it as ’Unread’, or to ‘read later’. I HAVE TO REMEMBER that I saw it, and there is a pretty good chance that is not going to happen. So, let’s use email when the recipient does not need to see our body language or hear our voice inflection so we provide them with the ability to mark it as ’Unread’ so that they can circle back to it when time permits.
While we are on the subject, let’s touch on voicemail as well. While voicemail does communicate our voice inflection, it has two weaknesses that can’t be ignored when we are attempting to communicate well, and manage expectations. The first and most annoying is the person that lets the voicemail begin, but then does not leave a message (unless you are my mother or father, if you do this, I WILL NOT CALL YOU BACK), the second is that like text, voicemail has no ”listen to this later’ option (leave the notification that I have a new voicemail on), so if I listen to your message while I am on the run, I may not remember that you left me a message later. The moral of this story is to choose your communication medium well.
If you need help in the area of communication and/or managing expectations with your customers and/or team members, I know of no better tool than the Custom Cabinet Planner app to make sure you are staying on top of all the communication things required by a custom cabinetry manufacturer.