Choosing Your Method of Communication
Email, text message, phone call, face-to-face, or even (gasp) snail-mail – today’s professional has a variety of communication methods at her disposal. But don’t assume all ways of making contact or dispensing information are the same. Take a look at what you need to say and who you are saying it to before choosing how to connect.
According to Dr. Marlene Caroselli -- a corporate trainer and author of more than 60 books including Hiring and Firing, The Critical Thinking Tool Kit, and Principled Persuasion – there are three types of information-sharing: The Ping-Pong, which involves a rapid exchange of facts; the Bull’s Eye, which is a one-way delivery of information and requires no further input; and the Spiral, from which a creative output is expected.
“The Ping-Pong situation lends itself easily to virtually any communication situation -- emails, telephone, meetings,” Caroselli says. “The Bull's Eye communication is most efficiently dealt with via email. With a Spiral situation, it's best for two or more people to be seated in the same room, ideally with a white board so ideas can be captured.”
It also is important to consider the content of the message. For instance, Caroselli notes that communication that is private or legal in nature is usually best shared in a face-to-face meeting behind closed doors, while information that is informal and designed to reach a larger audience can be shared by email. When dealing with situations beyond the office realm (such as extending sympathy on a loss or expressing congratulations on a wedding), consider snail mail.
Finally, take a moment to consider the receiver. If you know somebody doesn’t particularly like talking on the phone, choose another method when you can. If your colleague is always complaining about sorting through too much email, he may appreciate you stopping by his cubicle for a moment rather than sending a message. Take into account your own comfort level, too. If you like time to think about what you want to say, email or writing a note may be preferable to the phone or face-to-face.