To text or talk?

Departments - Business Minds

Follow these 7 tips to effectively communicate in the workplace.

October 25, 2017

Though the younger generation of employees may prefer texts over phone conversations, they also greatly prefer face-to-face communication in the workplace.
Photo: Thinkstock

Remember the 1979 song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles? While radio didn’t disappear, video — and now streaming services — forever altered the music industry.

Social media is having a similar effect on today’s relationships.

Consider the following: The single most preferred method of communication of Americans under the age of 50 is texting. Phone calls are going the way of the dinosaur, and voicemail is rarely left or retrieved because “it takes too long.” If you want to effectively build and grow relationships with employees and customers, discover and engage in the receiver’s preferred mode of communication. Doing otherwise jeopardizes your success.

Here are seven tips for building and maintaining relationships in the social media age.

  1. Utilize face-to-face interactions whenever possible in the workplace. According to a joint study by USC, the London School of Economics and PricewaterhouseCoopers, Millennial and Gen X employees overwhelmingly prefer face to face interactions in the workplace. Why, you ask? They greatly desire a relationship with you, their boss. Additionally, without an accompanying voice tone and visual clues, written communications are easily misconstrued, particularly when there’s a power imbalance. While most of your employees will be unhappy and feel disconnected if you fail to regularly interact face to face, if they know how to do the job and their relationship with you is strong, assigning tasks through text, email or other group communications can be effective and efficient. Forbes cites services like Dial My Calls as an effective way to send a mass text to employees that will be read much more immediately than an email.
  2. Utilize multiple forms of communication. You want to be where your customers congregate. While texting is the preferred mode of most customers, utilizing various social media platforms enables you to cast the widest net.
  3. Discover and utilize the receiver’s preferred form of communication. Ask employees and customers for their communication preferences, and you’ll find it far easier to build and maintain relationships and generate loyalty. Additionally, if you set aside a time to talk as a work group about preferred forms of group and individual communications and act on what you’ve learned, you’ll increase job satisfaction, engagement and productivity.
  4. Let people know your preferred modes of communication and how quickly they can expect to hear back from you depending on the medium they utilize. Relationships are two-way streets. Your employees and customers want and need to know the best ways to communicate with you. In addition to posting, you build relationships through responding to posts and comments.
  5. Praise in public. If you have something good to say, posting, tweeting and other forms of visible communication are a great way to spread the word.
  6. Handle problems privately. Unless there is a group problem, maintain the dignity of the individual and the relationship by addressing issues one on one and face to face whenever possible.
  7. Think before you ink. It only takes an instant to ruin a relationship or a reputation. Don’t put anything in writing you aren’t comfortable with everyone seeing. Once you hit “send” or “post,” it’s virtually impossible to fully erase. If you don’t want the entire world to see something you’ve said, it shouldn’t be written or spoken. Act as if there is always a video camera on you, and you’ll rarely go wrong.

Treat others as you like to be treated, and you’ll be a hit with some. Treat others the way they want to be treated, and you’ll greatly increase your impact.

Sherene works with organizations that want to boost their Leadership IQ so they can enhance effectiveness, increase employee engagement and raise productivity.