Connect Personally like Pope Francis: 4 Ways for Better Business Communication
We’ve all heard about the recent calls that Pope Francis has been making to some of his followers. Apparently these calls are in response to letters and emails he has received. So why is this practice making headlines? Because it is rare in today’s world for a leader to, pick up the phone, have a conversation, and connect with others.
Today our lives are filled with email and texts limited to 140 characters. Personal conversations over the phone or better yet, face to face meetings have become few and far between. The lack of these conversations, creates the inability to gather “soft information” that are nuances that can only be detected in both audio and visual communications. Without these personal interactions, the ability to create trust and a shared vision are extremely difficult.
In a recent edition of Strategy + Business by Booz & Company, authors Henry Mintzberg and Peter Todd suggest that leaders who want to improve their connections with others should first start out with benchmarking where you are with electronic communications. You can do this by:
- Count the number of emails and texts you receive over the course of an average week.
- Determine what percent of these electronic communications required action by you specifically
- Calculate the ratio of send/receive emails and texts
- Calculate the percent of emails you actually initiated rather than responded to
Once you have the data above you can then plan a course of action to decrease electronic communications, which in turn will free up time to have the personal communications needed to effectively inspire and lead others around you.
Four recommended steps for better personal business communication:
1. Determine where you want to be with the ratios you determined above, set specific goals.
The most important one is item 4, how many electronic communications do you initiate. This one you can control!
2. Set up rules for incoming mail so that your inbox doesn’t become overloaded with unimportant and time insensitive communications.
3. Set up specific times during the day to check email.
If you are in an environment that relies on texting, set expectations with those on your team who text that don’t require your immediate action will not be responded to and that the person should be communicating via email or phone.
4. Create a time for your organization not to use electronic communications.
A company in Atlanta, PBD Worldwide, set aside Fridays for no electronic communications back in 2007 when CEO Scott Dockter realized he was sending multiple emails to his assistant who sat right next to him. PBD has benefited from the policy over the years.
So take the plunge and commit yourself to more personal and less electronic communications. When do you plan on taking the first step, and what do you have to lose?