Modern technology allows us to communicate in a multitude of ways. We can connect over email, in-person, on the phone, video calls, texting and so on. Each style of communication has strengths and weaknesses. Being able to successfully navigate across all communication types will greatly benefit your career.
What you don’t want to do is become stuck using mostly one type of communication. For example, you might prefer email or text to talking on the phone but if this extends to screening your bosses calls, this can have a negative impact on your career.
Norms for communication develop as technology shifts our modes of working. Older generations who began their working life before email or when it was in its infancy, tend to preference talking in-person or on the phone. As a result, talking is very often a communication strength for older generations. The flip side, when this becomes a weakness, is when a worker rigidly sticks to this form of communication even when there are more effective methods. For instance, is a meeting required? Or could the information be better covered by a concise email.
The communication strength of younger generations is often in their efficiency and ease with social media and texting. Younger people often prefer these styles of communication but must be mindful of selecting the most appropriate communication style for the situation. For example, in a professional setting, referencing a business-related matter over text message may come across as unprofessional. Context is key here, for instance many people will text their boss to let them know when they are off sick. Whether it’s appropriate to use texting in a work context, depends heavily on how formal your workplace is.
Power up your career
The first step to ensuring your preferential communication style won’t hold you back is awareness. Identify which are your dominant modes of communication so you can challenge yourself not to get stuck. It’s also beneficial to be aware of the communication style favoured by your boss and colleagues. This helps ensure you’re not inadvertently deflecting their favoured communication style in preference of your own.
Manners go a long way, no matter which method of communication you’re using. Always be professional and polite. Avoid texting in meetings, being rude to colleagues and remember that simple words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way.
Check your slang
Never assume. Language evolves and changes so try to keep your slang to a minimum when communicating in a professional context to save confusion. The same goes for acronyms, unless you have work specific acronyms that are utilised by the company it’s best not to assume others know what your chosen acronym stands for.
Develop your skills
Fortunately, we can all improve our communication capacities. Once you’ve worked out which areas you are weaker in, work on them. For instance, if you find you are very easily distracted during in-person meetings and conversations you would do well to develop your active listening skills. Active listening requires that you give the speaker your full and undivided attention, preventing you from missing important information. Active listeners tend to create a better rapport with people and are able to better build relationships.