Communication: When and How? 4 C’s for Effective CommunicationPublished September 14, 2020
The other day, I was chatting with a member of my team via text.
I felt the conversation was going well. I was providing clarity, moving things ahead and then all the sudden, my phone rings. I answer it and the first phrase I hear, “Is everything okay with us?” That’s an odd way to start a conversation, but what is odder, is the person on the other end of the phone was the same person I was texting.
Confused and slightly taken aback I responded, “Yeah, is everything good with you?”
My team member responded, “I felt we were missing each other during the text conversation, so I wanted to make sure everything was okay.”
I was confused. What I discovered is during the text, my answers were getting shorter and more direct, and my team member thought I was annoyed with the conversation. I was trying to give clarity and multi-task while also working from home and supporting my team member. Pre-COVID-19, this conversation would have happened in person, face to face, and we would have been fully present with each other. With remote work and multiple conversations, my focus was divided and my communication at the moment did not support my team member well.
Effective communication creates clarity, increases trust and instills lasting connections your team will need to thrive in a remote environment.
How many times during this pandemic have we “missed” each other?
It would have been easy to dismiss my team member’s feelings and tell them to just trust me. However, as opposed to getting defensive, I realized I needed to improve my ability to communicate during this season and to support my team. Immediately, my mind went to Juliet Funt’s 2018 WhiteSpace talk when she briefly told us about 2D vs. 3D content and mediums.
I experienced the challenge of 2D vs. 3D in real time. My goal to be efficient in communicating caused me to be ineffective. Effective communication creates clarity, increases trust and instills lasting connections your team will need to thrive in a remote environment. So, what type of communication is both effective and efficient?
When CONFIRMING INFORMATION, use Text or Email
After a meeting, in order to ensure everyone is one the same page, a follow up email is helpful. There is not a lot of nuance that occurs within a confirmation email. Think about situations where the answer is “got it”, “yes/no” or “makes sense”. When there isn’t a need for significant dialogue, this is appropriate.
When CLARIFYING INFORMATION, use Email or a Voice Call
Depending on the level of complexity, an email or a voice call can be effective. If there is a simple clarifying question, an email response is appropriate. However, when I find myself writing a dissertation, having to rethink my words, or if the relationship could be experiencing stress I will email or text, “Hey, let’s hop on the phone.” The more and more we have to use text to communicate confusing conversations, we have more opportunities to miss each other. Spending five minutes on the phone can save five days’ worth of repair.
Be intentional. Be creative. Be inspiring.
When CORRECTING, talk Face to Face (or on a Zoom Call)
Even during COVID-19, as leaders, corrective measures are essential to produce alignment. Some are born out of clarity and others from misbehavior. While it may be easier to correct over email or less awkward using voice, I’ve found the face-to-face to be the most effective. I want my team to not only hear my words but to see my facial expression. My words and body communicate my heart.
When CELEBRATING team members, use All of the Above
When we were in the office, it was easy to drop by and say, “Great job on that project!” Now, I have to hunt for the stories because we lack proximity. So, when you find your team member did something right, text them individually, email the immediate team, and if you have a Zoom call, celebrate their actions in front of the team. What we celebrate, our teams will imitate. Practice intentionally celebrating other and communicate it to your teams.
As we continue to live through this next normal, communication is vital. When we figure out how to do it well, our teams will thrive.
Be intentional. Be creative. Be inspiring.
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About the Author
Parkcrest Christian Church
Jared C. Wilkins is the Lead Pastor at Parkcrest Christian Church in Long Beach, CA. He creates environments that are irresistible to life change through vision, teaching and intentional development. He has a masters degree from Duke University and has served as a Teaching Pastor and Ministry Director at Willow Creek Community Church as well as churches in North Carolina and Oklahoma prior to coming to Parkcrest.