I used to be very good at multi-tasking. Now that I have gotten older, I am not as good at it.
I have a lot to do every day, so when someone writes or calls I find it very helpful if they take a moment at the beginning of their communication to give me some hint how I might be most helpful to them. If I have some sense of where we are going, I am more likely to know what to listen for.
I suppose it is a simple communication strategy, but it is one that is often forgotten in the normal course of human events.
You see it all around you. Take resumes for example. In a normal batch there are very few that have a good summary at the top.
“To obtain a challenging finance position in an innovative firm.” So reads one from next week’s batch of new member candidates. Okay, I got the finance part, but not much information for me to use as a guide to absorbing the information to follow.
“CPA and MBA desires suitable challenging position in established company.” Okay, I guess this means that he/she wouldn’t consider a job in a company that has yet to be established. This is probably a smart thing since if it didn’t exist they probably wouldn’t even have offices, and where would he/she report for work?
“Am I calling you at a bad time?” This is a question I get at least once a day. No, I usually reply, but if you call back at 2PM, now that would be a bad time. I know it is considered a polite way of asking if they are disturbing me, but they have already interrupted my train of thought. However, if I sound stressed or answer the phone “WHAT?,” it might be a good thing to ask. Otherwise, it is best to just plunge right in and have at it. After all, what are the odds of catching me when I am not on the phone or working on something important?
Although it is possible to meander a bit in a written communication because the reader can go back and forth as needed, spoken communication is under a much more severe standard.
Not only that, but as I have been heard to say, speech is also the slowest form of communication.
Being organized in your thinking is a big part of having an effective conversation. What is it you would like to get across? What is the easiest way to make clear the purpose of your call? No reason to beat around the bush. People in today’s world just don’t have time for it.
So, not to make you more stressed than you were before about picking up the phone, but think before you dial. And if you have written something for my consumption, think before you hit send.
It will tend to make your communications that much more welcome on the receiving end, and less likely to receive that ever popular response of “Say what?”