Responding Appropriately


“Oh, the miraculous energy that flows between two people
who care enough to get beyond surfaces and games,
who are willing to take the risks of being totally open,
of listening, of responding with the whole heart.
How much we can do for each other. “

Alex Noble

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Every month you receive my “Small Idea” email that attempts to examine the challenges of leadership in the workplace.  I admittedly have taken advantage of the convenience and scope email provides.  I can reach all of you in a brief period of time just by pressing “send”.

Many of you have never met me face-to-face.  Some of you see me periodically and still others see me more often.  For some of you our relationship is purely electronic; for others our relationship is more personal.  

Our Penchant for Progress

Our adaptation and reliance on electronic forms of communication because of its broad acceptance has caused personal communication to take a back seat.  Communication is becoming less personal partly because we do so in the presence of another person(s) less and less.  This in turn is causing personal communication to slowly move toward becoming a lost art. 

We do, however, still place some value on communication skills.  Recently the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) published an article that cited these three points:

1. “Verbal communication skills were identified as the top ‘soft’ skill sought by employers when recruiting college graduates”. (Job Outlook 2011 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)).

2. “Employers look at candidates’ resumes for evidence of written communication skills (NACE’s Job Outlook 2012 survey)

3. “Communication skills are the most important and the hardest to find.   Being comfortable one on one with customers, colleagues and bosses means being comfortable with yourself and confident in your abilities.” (China Gorman, CEO of CMG Group)

(To read the complete article go to:  http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/Pages/CommunicationSkillsKey.aspx )

In another article by MSNBC Tech the author states that today’s teens use their cell phones more to text than to call.  The article begins by speculating that teens’ phone skills are beginning to suffer.   Considering texting and email’s growing level of use and knowing today’s teens are tomorrow’s college graduates, despite what employers may be looking for, effective personal and verbal communication skills in the workplace appear to be in danger of decline.  I believe our propensity to use electronic communication more and more will have a profound impact on effective face to face communication in the future and on customer service as well.

R U Connecting?

Leaders need to be role models in their communications as well as their actions.  That would include their appropriate use of memoranda, emails, texts, etc.  Knowing when to “make it personal” will always be a valuable skill.  When it comes to communication proximity and personal go hand in hand.

Electronic communication has its place, but we can all stay personally connected if we:

  • Write personal notes to say “thank you”, “congratulations” or as recognition for a job well done.
  • Call to follow-up on a customer’s complaint or concern or just to thank them for their business.
  • Cruise the office or work floor periodically to chat with people, learn their names and get to know them.
  • Catch people doing something “right” and thank them personally.

The impact personal communication has is a gift that keeps on giving.  If we make a point to connect personally in conversation  and in writing there is more of a chance the recipients will communicate to others in a likewise fashion.  Keeping it personal may take more time but the effort will yield good fruit. 

If you have a perspective on personal communication, drop me a note.  Better yet, hopefully…we’ll talk soon.

Here to serve,

John Duba

Next month:   Noticing, Listening and Other Forms of Observation

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