In our quest to stay connected we have developed many forms of communication over the decades. From snail mail to phone calls to emails we have become increasingly reliant on quick responses from family, friends, and coworkers. At work we find ourselves not only needing to communicate quickly, but also effectively which has led us to incorporate several different forms of communication into the workplace. Too many forms of communication can make it difficult to keep track of tasks or projects and can ultimately lead to information overload.
When deciding which form of communication to use, it is best to first consider the subject matter and formality of your message. Email lends itself to a more formal written form of correspondence between colleagues, whereas instant messages tend to be more causal conversational communication. Email is typically a more secure form of communication and is more effective when needing to relay a list of tasks or details. Emails are beneficial when you need to convey information externally. They can relay information to many people at once. Emails are also handy to convey important information which requires documentation because it is date and time stamped and can easily be printed or converted to pdf for record keeping purposes.
Instant messages are more effective when needing quick responses which do not require much contemplation or planning. Instant messages and messaging boards are a great way to share information with your whole company. They can be used to convey birthdays, anniversaries, and other fun announcements. They can also be extremely useful when brainstorming about new ideas or concepts.
Sometimes it is just easier to have a verbal conversation than trying to put your thoughts in writing. Phone calls and video chats are a great way to avoid ambiguity. Body language and tone can be quite important when relaying sensitive information. Video chats and phone calls allow you to interpret someone’s reaction to the message you are conveying instead of relying on written words with no inflection. Calls and videos are also a great form of communication when discussing a subject matter which could lead to many questions. This allows a two-way conversation to occur much quicker than emails or messages going back and forth. It also alleviates the disruptions of multiple emails/messages regarding the same subject.
Unless it is the preferred method, texting a colleague should be the last form of communication to consider in the workplace. Text messages are best left for topics unrelated to work. Keeping boundaries on what forms of communication are used in the workplace is important in preventing information overload.
Lastly, consider what form of communication would you prefer before sending your message. Think before you send.