Text, Email, Virtual Meetings, Face-to-Face, Oh! My!

By Diane Buckley-Altwies'

Technology is a wonderful thing.  For the most part, it has made us more connected, more productive and much more knowledgeable about the world around us.

With anything new, there are always positive aspects (otherwise no one would adopt them) and, unfortunately, some negative impacts.

Communicating in today’s world has become ever more virtual.  I literally can sit at my desk and “work” with others around the globe, without ever picking up the phone or opening up the mail.  If I look back at the 1980s when I started my professional career, we were just starting to get computers in offices and the internet was non-existent to the average person.  I remember writing memos and putting communications in interoffice mail.  I don’t think I’ve done that in over 15 years!

With all these great advances, I still struggle with one simple truth—face-to-face is irreplaceable.

As a project manager, our job is to communicate ALL THE TIME.  However there are some very simple rules to use when using technology to communicate. 

1)     Texting/Instant Messaging is useful for short communications to people you have a relationship with.

a.     Don’t text with clients until you have established rapport with them

b.     Don’t text if a conversation is complex and you want to retain this information for later retrieval.

2)     Emailing is useful for communicating status, or documenting decisions made. 

a.     Have a way to “file” emails away for later retrieval.  Sometimes you may need that CYA. 

b.     Don’t email when you are upset—your attitude does come across

c.      Don’t write a book, if you really want people to read it.  Otherwise you are wasting your time.

3)     Virtual meetings are great when collaborating with others around the globe.  It allows many people to “hear”, and potentially “see” what is being communicated.

a.     Have an agenda—ALWAYS so that the attendees know what is going to be discussed

b.     Don’t invite everyone, just because you can.  It is much better to have smaller groups to facilitate better collaboration.

c.      Don’t fool yourself, people aren’t always listening.  Make sure you have a way to assess who is listening and hold them accountable.

4)     Face-to-face is the ONLY way to deliver difficult news or deal with a complex situation.  For many of the reasons listed above, messages can be missed with electronic communications.

a.     Face-to-face allows you to see body language

b.     Face-to-face makes it harder for people to be “rude”

c.      Face-to-face allows for better “connection” to your audience.  You aren’t just a name and a voice.  People remember you better when they’ve met you in person.

Communication is a key aspect of being a certified project manager.  Knowing how to plan for communication to stakeholders and project team members is critical.  Read more about this topic in Achieve PMP Exam Success: 6th Edition’s Communication Knowledge Area in Chapter 10.  To order your copy, visit http://www.coreperformanceconcepts.com/achieve-pmp-exam-success-6th-edition/

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