Thursday, August 23, 2007


Good Communications is one of the most important traits you can have. Be it from:

  1. conversations
  2. e-mail
  3. telephone
  4. letters,
  5. power-point presentations
  6. meetings
  7. Status Reports

Communication is how you verbalize what you want, when you want it and how you want it done. It also serves to give visual cues about your mood, your passion, your responses. These body language cues are not only seen but also felt and heard.

On a recent trip to France during my International Residency I learned a valuable lesson, leave it to the French people to help! In typical American style I was rushing to get from the airport to the train station so that I could arrive in Rouen on time. I rushed up to the train attendant and immediately asked him "Which train goes to Rouen?". He scowled at me and shrugged his shoulders mumbling what was later determined to be the reply "I don't speak English".

Later that week I was attending classes in Rouen about the French culture and learned that the correct way to approach the French for help is to approach them like this (in French helps). "Excuse me, I have a petite problem that you may be able to help me with, could you tell me where the train to Rouen is?". You see, this statement places you in a position where you need them, not a position where you are barking at them. It is also a pleasant way to start the conversation. I tried it that very day at the train station and it worked beautifully. The attended even hailed his subordinate to take me to the train.

THE LESSON : You cannot always get what you want because of who you are. It is better to undertsand your audience, think about the situation and use the appropriate communications style to achieve your desired result. Be it a Frenchman, a worker on the factory floor or your boss.

E-Mail Rules
Be wary of overusing the blink copy feature (BCC) and always be wary of "Reply All" for same reason.

I am a big fan of writing scathing, bashing, hurtful e-mails. I am not a big fan of sending them. Never send off an e-mail when you are angry or one that has angry words. If you need to vent then write it, save it and later the next day read it again. Then trash it and send a more graceful e-mail to address the issue.

Always treat an e-mail like it will be read on the front page of the New York Times. Never put anything in one that can hurt you, your company or others, no telling where it may end up.

Always confirm receipt of an e-mail, even if you have no time to read it now. A quick "Thanks Bud, I got it" goes along way with the person who sent the e-mail. They took the time to give you the information they felt you needed, you should at least reward them with a Thank You.

E-mails have their place and should not be the only form of communication. Be very careful with wording as e-mail is famous for losing the meaning in translation and can often convey the wrong or unintended message.

If a walk to the office next door will work then skip the e-mail and go into verbal mode. If the e-mail is going to serve as a filed item (a record of something) then follow up with an e-mail outlining the agreed decision.

If you have multiple teams, make a group in outlook and use that group as the distribution list. Encourage others to add that group to their address book. It is a great way to quickly coordinate and disseminate information.

Phone Rules

Meeting Rules

1 comment:

Timothy Johnson said...

Great post. I've expanded the topic a little more at my blog on