How can you avoid deluging your co-workers with messages and use the right communication tool wisely? Mara has a few tips for you.
“Morning Julien, how are you?”
“Morning Mara. I’m fine, but a bit annoyed!”
“What could be wrong so early in the morning?”
“Well that’s just it – you’re a real bundle of energy this morning! I’ve received dozens of emails, Skype messages, Spark messages and text messages and all before 8am! On Monday!”
My colleague’s outburst got me thinking.
Not so long ago, emails were our pet hate and we each had our ways of managing them:
Using the “recipients” and “CC” wisely
Creating filters to automatically sort certain emails
Checking emails at specific times of the day and never first thing in the morning
And the list goes on
We did everything we could to tame the beast. Emails were criticised, so more user-friendly tools like instant messaging and text messages came along to replace them. But unfortunately, they’ve just made things worse!
Are we too connected? How can we manage all these communication tools? Limiting the tools we use whenever possible is surely the simplest solution. But when that’s not possible, what can you do?
I decided to make my own personal rules for each of these tools:
Email: If I need to go into more detail about something and when I don’t need an answer right away. And I carefully choose the recipients (from whom I expect a reply) and the people I copy in (who will receive the email for information purposes only).
Individual instant messaging: If I have a short question and need a quick response, in just a few words. Not before 9am or after 6pm unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Group instant messaging: If I’m looking for the best answer or if the discussion concerns all the members. Otherwise I use individual messaging. Within the appropriate hours.
Text messages: For emergencies, if I know that the person is not online.
Telephone: For delicate matters or emergencies – and never outside working hours. Always remember that calling someone is to interrupt them.
And I always choose my tool based on what I need to avoid having to use several for the same thing!
What about you ? Do you have similar or different experiences? Let me know, I'll be happy to discuss it with you!
Artwork : Mélanie Bénard Tremblay, 2019, © Marakoudja.