Communication Etiquette For Clear Communications
Today’s many forms of communication make it easier than ever to exchange information and easier than ever to get distracted and interrupted. When it happens to you, remember that it’s OK to politely say, “Wait, I can’t talk now but I can get back to at 3:00. Will that work for you?” We all need uninterrupted time for quality, focused thinking.
Drive-by time suck. If you must concentrate and can’t afford interruptions, post a sign that says: “Available at 1 p.m.” Spending two or three minutes chatting when a coworker strolls by your desk may seem insignificant, but it can take up to 15 minutes to reorganize thoughts and refocus on the task at hand. These drive-by interruptions are very costly when you add up the three or four throughout your day.
Gathering information. Nonetheless, there are times when you must speak to someone, if only because you need information so that you can proceed in your work. Here are some less invasive ways to fit into someone else’s schedule:
- Try an old-fashioned sticky note with a short reminder or message. Not all communication has to be instant.
- E-mail a request for a short meeting if you need more than 5 minutes of talk time. Suggest a time, but never wait until the last minute. That makes your emergency seem like someone else’s problem.
- Try a working lunch for quick info with a busy colleague. This can help slip you into their schedule sooner and give you the information you need in a more timely manner so you can proceed with your work. Be flexible.
- Schedule a regular time to meet even if it’s just 15 minutes per week. This is a great way to tally your thoughts in the calendar reminder and talk about everything at one time. This will give you both time to connect and reflect before the next meeting.
- Take advantage of project management programs, which have To Do and Share features. Keeping all the information for your work flowing between collaborating coworkers is a fantastic way to allow others time to calendar their own work and be more productive.
Stay organized and offer solutions. Whatever you choose, make it a priority to not interrupt others and make demands of their time. Your work and their work is ultimately important for the organization or you wouldn’t be there. Be cognitive of their responsibilities, but don’t let your responsibilities slip though the cracks. Take a proactive approach to scheduling the time you need and gathering the information you need to be successful every day.
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