Post written by Donald Swartz, President and Principal at Swartz + Associates, Inc. | Lover of Chiefs, Royals and golf | Avid “Cruiser” | Poker Enthusiast
Communication. We use this word regularly in business, in our personal lives, with friends and family members. We communicate verbally, in written form and in “if looks could kill” glances. When you “Google” the definition of communication, it says:
- The imparting or exchanging of information or news
- Means of connection between people or places, in particular.
These are two distinct definitions and the outcomes of how one communicates can be very different. I bring this up because my wife was without her voice for five days last week and it brought a heightened awareness to the term.
Of course, when Karen lost her voice, the typical response from others went something like this, “Boy, are you lucky. I wish (INSERT SPOUSE’S NAME HERE) lost (HIS/HER) voice. I could really get things done and not have to worry about talking/responding/explaining. I could just enjoy the quiet time.”
Sounds like a nice scenario, right? Well, not exactly. Maybe it was enjoyable for the first couple of hours but after awhile you miss the rhythm of conversation and the ability to casually interact. Interestingly, I found myself NOT talking to her because I knew she couldn’t respond without great effort and further discomfort to her vocal cords.
After a few days of this, it was a matter of exchanging a couple of emails during the day and mostly silence at night. This was somewhat uncomfortable considering we’ve spent the past 27 years together. While we were communicating, we weren’t really COMMUNICATING.
Now that her voice is back, we were talking about the importance of communicating and how important this word is in the professional world. She was able to use email correspondence in daily activities, but was it as productive as verbal communication?
I thought about that concept and how we communicate with our clients. Do we rely on email exchanges? Are we in touch with our clients on a regular basis? Are we communicating but not really COMMUNICATING? Are messages clearly delivered in our, and their, preferred communication method?
While email is very effective and a large part of our everyday communication, verbal connectivity is such an incredibly necessary and powerful tool. It allows us to hear the inflection in voices…unintentional or intentional pauses before responses, the speed of words (deliberate or free-wheeling)…and allows us to determine whether the intended message was delivered and understood.
I’m reminded of the old United Airlines commercial where an executive gathers his team together and says they lost an account because the client didn’t feel connected or important. So, he hands out airline tickets to all the account managers and says it’s time to pay a call to an old friend.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time I paid a few calls to “old friends”.
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