The world used to be so simple. You could talk to someone in person, call them on the phone, or mail them a letter. Now, in addition to those, we have video calls, texts, emojis, emails, posts, tweets, pins – it’s enough to make you crazy!
Faced with so many choices, how do you choose? How do you appear personable with so many options?
The answer lies in three basic questions.
Choice 1: Is your workplace formal or informal?
The climate of your workplace can tell you a lot about what is an acceptable tone. If your boss and coworkers like to be personable, you should feel comfortable doing the same. Of course you need to be true to who you are and your communication style. You don’t want to come across as two different people in person and digitally. You want to be authentic and reflect the person the recipient knows and trusts.
Take cues from the emails and conversations you have – it’s a safe bet to match their tone. If they are casual in their communication, that’s a green light for you to be less formal as well. Of course, always show respect, so a good rule of thumb is to be more professional in your first encounter with someone.
Choice 2: What tools are available?
As the commercial says “There’s an app for that!” Of course, there is! There are thousands of them!
No matter your communication need, there is an app that can help you. Of course wading through them is tedious, so here’s a run-down on some highly recommended ones.
Everyone has a phone, but try Skype, Zoom or Facetime for video calls. Body language is extremely important for personable communication, and showing your face gives you a much better chance of getting your message across.
Have a distributed team you need to keep up with? Try Voxer, a messaging app with live voice (think walkie-talkie), text, photo and location sharing. Alternatively, there’s Slack that provides real-time messaging, archiving and search features.
Have to provide customer service? There’s Ilos that provides ridiculously simple screen recording so you can help team members (or family) share bugs and problems for you to fix. And Groove is a customer support ticket app that works via-email.
Choice 3: What’s the right communication medium?
I work for the Department of Defense and there is a lot of security regarding computer and phone use. We simply are not permitted to use a lot of the tools that are out there.
Know the tools you do have and you’ll be better prepared to choose the right medium.
One medium isn’t better than the other. It all depends on the conversation you are having and the person you are talking to. Below is a chart to kick start your thinking.
Selecting the right medium is about answering the following:
- Which medium will help me get my message across?
- Which medium will make it as easy as possible for the recipient(s)?
- Am I choosing the medium that’s easiest for me or the medium that will effectively facilitate a conversation?
Before the communication can even start, we have to make some good decisions.
Knowing what tone to use, what tools to use and what method to use are just the beginning.
Next week, we’ll dive into how to be personable in texts and emails.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: Sorry I didn’t have the social skills to communicate with you when the office internet was down.