- Verbal communication consists of delivering your message through speaking directly to a person. Phone, face to face live or online meetings and real-time presentations fall into this category.
- Non-verbal communication includes the use of body language and facial expressions. Check out this classic Ali Cuddy TedTalk here.
- Written communication is writing to another, with email, texting, etc. being examples.
For communication success, the type of communication must match the content of the communication.
Which communication would you use in each of these scenarios?
One of your staff has made a significant mistake on a project. They are out of the office on business for a week. The team has fixed it. Which communication would be best for your conversation with the staff member?
You are working with someone who is difficult and causing your work to be difficult. Which communication would be best for your conversation with the staff member?
You have an important announcement to make to your distributed team. You’ll be using a live webinar. Which communication would be best for your conversation with the staff member?
You’ve asked a couple of times for a response, and you haven’t received it. You want to let your boss know that you have asked but nothing has happened, so she’s doesn’t think it’s your issue. Which communication would be best for your conversation with the staff member?
Your workload is crazy out of control. Someone has asked for your help on a project, and you always say yes. This time you cannot say yes. Which communication would be best for your conversation with the staff member?
You’ve got a lot on your plate, and it’s easier to just do the work yourself because you have no time to explain it and delegate it. What is your belief set that creates this decision? What is the cost?
There are no perfect answers and it’s best to notice all three. Here are guidelines:
- If you have an issue with a person, speak to them as quickly as you can use Verbal Communication, preferably face to face. If you must talk on the phone or online, note that the pace must slow down to avoid talking over or interruption, which breaks trust. Before you talk, carefully consider your perceptions about the situation and speak about the facts, not your interpretations. Ask questions instead of statements to begin to clarify a joint understanding to eventually come to a shared conclusion.
- Use Written Communication when you have something to tell others that can be clearly stated and not controversial. Notice when you are overusing written communication, especially to avoid conversations with others. Use TO: for the people who need to do something, CC: for people who need to know, and BC: for people who need to know and want to be private (like your boss).
- If you have an issue with a person, do not tell other people and do not CC: your boss which feels like you’re getting the person in trouble. Speak with the person before you speak to anyone else. Escalate as a last resort.
- In face to face (together or online) communication, set ground rules before you start. What is the purpose of this meeting? Who is involved? How much time do you have? What are the next steps? It’s helpful to pay attention to the Non-Verbal Communication, especially body language and expressions. They are looking at your body language as well. Crossing your arms and leaning back often signals a disconnect. Use questions to different people to grow collaboration.