Saturday, December 14, 2013

Communication; a work in progress

I had some thoughts about how my communication style is developing, and figured I'd share.
While I do like to use all forms of communication, I tend to prefer written; text, email, and chat for many interactions, especially when it comes to anything relating to business, or conversations that contain indisputable facts, such as "the sky is blue" (yes, trolls and/or contrarians can dispute almost anything, but I'm not considering those outliers now). I've developed this perspective over the years for a few different reasons; the benefits of the written record, the technologist's quest to maximize time, the realization that not everything is urgent, and most importantly, it's not. all. about. me.

There are some people who would consider this impersonal, or inconsiderate. I'm attempting to explain why this not the case or the intent (for me; I don't speak for anyone else). While there are times and places where it makes sense to have a phone or face to face conversation, I believe that those types of conversations aren't needed for as many things as people think.

First and foremost, I like the record of written communication. It's been helpful to have that written aid back up and buttress the memory banks as I get older. I've also found that people are much more reluctant to put shady dealings/ideas/suggestions down in a written form. As a result, I tend to have less of those.

As a geek, I've immersed myself in years of productivity porn that has led to the creation of this communication policy. Getting a call while I'm deep in some code can throw my productivity off for quite some time. Google "Programmer Productivity Interruption" for more on that, but an unscheduled interruption can result in hours of time lost. Sending and receiving asynchronous communications allows me to have my time to solve problems and interact/communicate with people as well. This is also why I tend to send a text message to my friends saying "would you mind if I called you?"

In this age of instant gratification, there's often a desire to have an quick and instant response to everything. Unfortunately, not everything that is communicated needs or merits a quick response. If you've ever received a call from someone asking why you haven't responded to the grumpy cat meme they posted to facebook, you know what I'm talking about. We now have all these communication lanes that allow people to respond to non urgent things in a non urgent manner without getting lost. 

What circumstances merit a call, you might ask? I'd say any situation that cannot be easily defined through the written word. Any tense, confusing or powerful emotional situation. Any time when I feel like I really want to hear the tone in someone's voice because that can clarify unclear situations, or to make myself feel better when I'm in a bad mood, or when I'm uncertain about something and that makes me anxious. 

The benefit of splitting these communications into these asynchronous channels like chat is that, as a result of this communications shift, the meetings, calls and face to face interactions can go beyond a status update, but veer off into any of the wonderful directions those conversations can go. I believe that the conversations are richer for it. 

So what does this mean from a practical perspective? This means that it's not always easy to catch me on the phone for a voice conversation. If you want to contact me and receive a response, the quickest way is usually chat, text message and/or email. As a side note, I also don't tend to check my snail mail that often, so if you've written something to me that way, I may not have gotten it.

So, I'm curious to hear about other people's communication styles; does this seem normal or strange? Do you read this and nod your head in understanding, or does it seem weird/out there? What methods work for you in terms of reaching and being reached? Inquiring minds want to know.

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