My Favorite Methods for Communicating and How to Use Them: Part 2

The ability to communicate is one of the most powerful skills we possess as human beings. Moreover, today, we have an unprecedented quantity of tools available to communicate at work. These tools are sometimes subject to misuse, resulting in misunderstandings and wasted time, but they can also be extremely powerful. The more adept we become at switching between one instrument and the next, the more effective we will be at connecting with others and obtaining positive results and healthy business habits.

In My Favorite Methods for Communicating and How to Use Them: Part 1 of this guide, I discussed email and digital and mobile chat applications and their advantages, disadvantages, and best uses. What follows are the three other means of communication my team and I use most often.


[Photo: Frazad Nazifil/Unsplash]

[Photo: Frazad Nazifil/Unsplash]

Collaboration Software

At our firm, we use a project management application to assign tasks to each other. This software allows us to collaborate on projects and ideas; some examples include Trello, Wrike, and Asana. Through these types of applications, we can easily communicate about tasks we are working on together.

Advantages

  • Easy and quick: In this type of collaboration software, you simply identify the person in the task, deliver the message, and collaborate.

  • Searchable and automatically recorded: This is one of my favorite benefits of using project management software. Conversations about any task can be quickly found whenever needed. I have gone back years to find projects we worked on and quickly refreshed my mind as to the details and how we finished the project in the past.

  • Shows up on a to-do list: We can assign tasks to each other in seconds, which can then contain a description if more information is needed, and these tasks will then show up on each person’s daily to-do list. This means action items do not get lost in the shuffle and are more likely to be worked on efficiently.

Disadvantages

  • Inadequate for complex ideas: Sometimes a task is assigned with an insufficient explanation or a vague comment is added to a task. The receiver must then invest more time trying to figure out what the assigner meant.

  • Can get lost: Even though tasks/comments are searchable and show up on the individual’s to-do list, a comment can still get lost. This is especially true if a thread of comments on a specific project gets too long or there are too many collaborators.

Best Uses

I use messages/tasks within project management applications to communicate in the following ways:

  • Straightforward tasks: Assigning actions that already have context or need no further explanation. This ability is a big time-saver because the item goes straight to the assigned person’s to-do list. Some examples are:

A. Refill office supplies.”

B.Prepare financial documentation requested by the bank at yesterday’s meeting.”

  • Contextualized comments: This is where these collaboration software programs shine. When expressed and attached to an existing project, messages on projects can greatly speed up execution with less effort. For example:

Message sent to me on an existing task:@Pamela Ayuso, I just spoke with the tenant, and she said she will be leaving next month. I plan on calling her back in two weeks to ensure she has everything she needs. Also, I already spoke with our real estate agent who has a tenant ready to take the apartment as soon as the current tenant leaves.”


[Photo: Yifei Chen/Unsplash]

[Photo: Yifei Chen/Unsplash]

Telephone

Telephones are the oldest in terms of technology in this list, yet they are still one of the most effective tools for communication. Even though the ability to call is old, the reach a phone call can have today is enormous. With the prevalence of cell phones, we can talk to the person we are seeking immediately. Additionally, any call, local or international, can be made in a matter of seconds for no charge using one of the many apps available such as Skype and Whatsapp. In this category, I would also include video calls, which are similar to phone calls except for the added convenience of the ability to see the other party.

Advantages

  • Universal: Every professional I know has a cell phone.

  • Convenient: We can reach somebody on the phone through many easily available means. There are landlines, cell phone calls, and now, calls via mobile and digital apps, which are free.

  • Useful for conversations: Telephones are the next best thing to meeting in person for communicating any concept. If a project is too complicated to explain via email or through software, communicating via the phone is the easiest way to reach thorough and mutual understanding between both parties.

  • Nuanced: One can detect the spoken tone when on a call, which is very helpful in conversations that can be subject to misunderstanding. Humor is easily detectable, and urgency is just as easily translated.

Disadvantages

  • Intrusive: The person you are calling must drop everything to receive the call. Everybody is busy, and it is sometimes uncomfortable and disruptive to have to interrupt.

  • Not searchable/no record: Other than the date and hour of the call, no record remains of the conversation itself. Therefore, the information that was spoken cannot be retrieved, unless it was later saved or digitally recorded.

  • Time-consuming: Even though phone calls are effective at getting points delivered, they can also take up more time than simply sending a digital message or email.

Best Uses

Despite the amount of time it takes to pick up the phone and call someone, it is still a good tool for communicating with colleagues and getting everyone involved on the same page. I use the telephone for:

  • Complex ideas or tasks: Clarification is often needed when a team is working on a complicated assignment. A quick phone call can remove difficulties that arise.

  • Finding common ground: Future/existing plans and strategies can be discussed over the phone to ensure the team members are in agreement and so projects run as smoothly as possible.


[Photo: Rawpixel/Unsplash]

[Photo: Rawpixel/Unsplash]

In-person

I find that this is the best method for any communication that can be subject to interpretation or is complex, like the launch of a new project. It is often the most efficient because there is less time wasted later on with possible miscommunications or lost ideas.

Advantages

  • Effective for complex ideas: Detailed and intricate subjects can only be most effectively and fully discussed via phone or in-person; if possible, it is sometimes better to arrange a meeting with everyone involved.

  • Save time in the long-run: A small investment of time to get on the same page can bear wonderful results in the long-run. There are fewer chances for miscommunication and everybody can dispel any existing questions.

  • Quick feedback: When information needs to be quickly exchanged, such as learning a new skill or brainstorming new ideas, this is the best method available.

Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming in the short-run: Setting up time, getting to the appointment, and the time it takes to have the conversation are all factors that add up. It would be impossible only to use this tool and meet with everybody because there is simply not enough time in each day.

  • No automatic record: Note-taking is essential for the meetings to have an impact. Without a record of the meeting, details are often lost over time, and people’s memories and perceptions of the transpired conversation can easily become convoluted or murky.

Best Uses

Because of the time it takes to set up and conduct face-to-face meetings, they should only be used for conversations that require them. Otherwise, we get stuck in endless back-to-back meetings that take up valuable time. Some of the best uses of in-person meetings are:

  • Brainstorming: There is something special that only occurs when two or more people meet to search for and kick around new ideas.

  • Projects: Kicking-off projects and following up are most effective in person, especially if the projects are complex. Fewer misunderstandings occur and time is used more efficiently.

  • Complex conversations: Nuance allows difficult conversations to go more smoothly. Letting someone go or talking about a mistake may be uncomfortable but is also more effective if done face-to-face.

  • Negotiations: I find that when I am sitting across from someone, it is easier to find a win/win situation. Little is hidden because no gadgets are standing in the way. All cards can be laid on the table, and it is more probable the goal and agreement will be met.

  • Training/Coaching: Whether we are coaching a colleague or training a group of 20 people, in-person meetings are always the best option. The best way to learn is through continuous feedback between all the parties involved.


[Photo: Jordan Andrews/Unsplash]

[Photo: Jordan Andrews/Unsplash]

In today’s technological ecosystem, it is possible to reach anybody anywhere. We have dozens of tools available. The trick is to use the best one for the required occasion, the one that will prove to be the most effective in the shortest amount of time.

What are your favorite methods for communicating? What other tools do you use and how?

Pamela Ayuso - About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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