Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Millennials and Effective Communication

My Millennial colleagues and I have learned and adapted to communicate in a very different style compared to our older colleagues/people, like our parents' generation. This change has been driven by the widespread availability and ease of use of digital communication. Our parents didn't have the internet, smartphones, or social media.

This has created major PROBLEMS for our generation:

1. False sense of Security with texts/emails. 
-We've gotten into this habit of texting/email and by virtue, we've resorted to texting for most of our communications.

2. Avoidance of direct in-person or phone conversations:
-We're uncomfortable because we haven't done it on a regular basis.  We grew up on Social Media, Smartphones, and text/emails and our form of communication have shifted to predominately digital. We've lost (or have never learned) how to communicate effectively.

3. A false perception that texting/emailing is more efficient & effective.
-In our ultra-productive culture, we think texting/emailing saves us time and helps us get to our next checkbox on our to-do list.

How do we Millenials communicate effectively?
-Listening to this HBR podcast on Avoiding Miscommunication in the Digital World has completely changed my perspective and behavior. A MUST listen to all my Millennial colleagues out there. The following are summarized from the podcast and a few other resources.

1.  Humans have evolved over the millennia to interpret intentions.  How you communicate your message is the most important predictor of the desired outcome.
2.  Communication is 80% non-verbal. Intention makes up the non-verbal part of the communication.  Our body language and tone of our voice communicate intentions.

WHY it matters?  Inappropriate forms of communication can be disastrous, counterproductive, inefficient and ineffective. It takes IQ to climb the ladder and EQ from falling off. Effective communicators have high EQ.

Over the past year, I've been fascinated by how people become influencers. I want to understand the common traits of highly-valued individuals from everyone else. During my research, I've observed that people in power deal with highly-conflicted cases on a regular basis. For example, a chair of a department, or CEO of a company negotiate and balance the needs of a lot of valuable people.  Influencers who do this well are effective communicators.

Milleau of options in increasing order of richness: texts/emails, over the phone, video-conferencing, in-person to communicate our intentions.

Source: Wikipedia
-easy, fast, easily available (we all have smartphones)
-great for communicating facts.
-does not project intentions
-If you have to email/text, use EMOJIs helps to communicate intention
-AVOID text/email in any high-conflict scenarios.

-a major step above texting/emailing
-the intonations and inflections in our voices project our feelings and intentions which give our listeners context for what we are saying
-much more effective, easy, and efficient. One call can save you excessive texts/emails.
-Great if you cannot meet the person

-this is the second best to in-person communication
-ability to both see and hear people
-problem: we're 3D people.  Video conferencing is relaying 3D data in a 2D fashion. So, video conferencing is tiring and fatiguing because we have to concentrate too much on the screen. On the side note, many times, we end up looking at our own video projection rather than watching the others. :D
-but it's the best alternative when in-person is not possible.

-for high-conflict scenarios, this is the best method for reasons already mentioned: listeners can see, hear and understand the speaker.
-Humans are social creatures and we're biologically and physiologically designed for face-to-face communication.

  1. For the ultra-productive, highly-efficient people, pause and take it easy with the texting/emailing! This should serve only as an aperitif for the main course. Text cannot, does not and will not work in high-stakes environments.
  2. To be efficient and effective, practice and learn how to integrate phone/video communication into your daily communication. It's seemingly more time-consuming (and requires extra effort), but if you value your message and want a successful outcome, then pick up the phone, or schedule a time to talk about it over video or in-person. 

HBR Avoiding Miscommunication in the Digital World
Creating a Culture that Fosters Communication. Dr. Amber Liles RNSA 2018

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