Talk to me

December 11, 2008

Some of us managers have been emailing each other in recent days about the best ways to communicate and share information. Phone, email and talking in person are about all everyone can agree on. It falls apart pretty fast after that.

1928521563_55107f1a9eOne of the commentators observed that most of us use some or all of the following to one degree or another: Twitter, Yammer, Gliffy, The world is flat, New Media Team blog, Facebook, In/Out, iWiki, Microsoft Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Blackberry SMS, Outlook/Entourage email and calendar and phones both landline and cell and of course our computers. It makes a nice run-on sentence, but does it make sense?

And that’s just his list.

Convergence isn’t here yet to give us the answer to everything – so what to do in the meantime? We want loads of information, but we gripe about information overload. We want deep and meaningful conversation but for whatever reasons don’t have them much. We want it fast and easy but kvetch about the shallowness and incoherence of it all. We want to communicate using ways we personally are comfortable with, but which aren’t always comfortable for others.

And just as importantly, what methods should we not use? When is too much … too much? How do “we” decide? What’s the answer? Is there an answer? Are we making a mountain out of a molehill?

You can run screaming from the room now.

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One Response to “Talk to me”

  1. Melissa (Dorsey) McDowell Says:

    I have to consider who needs to know whatever it is I’m communicating about, and what services I know they use. Mostly it’s email lists, a Facebook message or a phone call. Except for the blogging, which I am not even sure anyone is reading.

    I have an old email that went out to a staff list at an ISP in the 90s, it was from a very frustrated engineer who found his mailbox overflowing with junk most people didn’t need or want, his top ten tips for managing this:

    10. Think “does this really need to go to the 120 member staff list”?
    9. Think about it again.
    8. Hold your breath until you don’t want to send staff mail anymore.
    7. Think about it again.
    6. Think “this trivial garbage should go to the stuff list” *
    5. Think about it again.
    4. Stick your head in a bucket of water for ten minutes.
    3. Think about it again.
    2. Think PAIN.

    And the number one thing you should do before sending mail to staff:

    1. think “I shouldn’t do that”.

    “stuff list” = mailing list for non-work related stuff for fun or social purposes.

    It advocates Serious Self Censorship and careful targeting of messages. I think that what will happen is that sooner or later (more likely later) people will start to come around to these ideas on their own, and then the contortions will start.

    Maybe this post is the first intimation of that, but it will be necessary for all the communicants to agree not only that they
    1. need to communicate with each other
    and
    2. on a method. (maybe, see below)

    This will happen for each subgroup someone is a member of. Many social networking sites give people ways to direct messages to their email or some other place that is convenient for them. I think a lot of people will simply choose to direct their communications to their favorite medium to the extent that capability is supported, then they will complain until the rest of their messages are able to be delivered the same way.

    But, I do think that serious, careful thought about WHO you need to reach should drive these processes. I cannot tell you how much email I get (at work even!!) that goes straight to the trash bin.


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