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Do You Have a Healthy Communication Footprint?

Are You Giving People What They Need?


If you know what you're saying, then shouldn't everyone else?

Nope. Not even a little bit. And as frustrating as that might sound, it's good to increase your communication abilities and adapt to the needs of others. We like to say "Communicate unto others as they would have you communicate unto them," and really, isn't that what you want other people to do for you? 

Think about that for a second. 

Basically you're just going one layer deeper into The Golden Rule--if you want people to communicate with you using your preferred method, then doesn't it make sense to find out their preference and use it when the tables are turned?

So what happens if we take a moment to pause and adjust our communication for others, because remember, communication is…

    1. critical
    2. hard
    3. not about me

Taking the time to learn other's communication preferences and adjust to theirs is a great way to grow your communication footprint, which in turn, helps all of us!


You’ll give people warm fuzzies

Adapting your communication means a lot to the person you're talking to, emailing, or texting. For example, if it's common knowledge that you're not a fan of talking on the phone, but you know that your colleague prefers it, guess how it makes her feel when you give her a call to let her know what's going on with Project X? Answer: pretty darn good. Plus, the more you engage in other mediums of communication, the better you'll get at using them.


You'll get to know others' preferences (which can save you time in the long run)

Picture this: A colleague routinely misses meetings. You sent her an email with the dates and times of a series of upcoming meetings a month ago, and the first meeting is coming up next week. You sent her a reminder email with the meeting time, location, and agenda, but she still didn’t show up to the meeting. How do you respond?

Before you berate your colleague for missing another meeting, pause. Have you asked her what her communication preferences are? Maybe she missed the meeting because she is drowning in emails right now and simply missed the messages. Maybe she prefers an instant message reminder through a Slack or Teams channel. Maybe she lives by her calendar, and if she doesn’t get a calendar invite, she won’t be anywhere. 

You don’t know if you don’t ask. Open a dialogue about communication preferences and take note.


You'll start a conversation that could help all of us connect better

Opening a conversation about communication preferences could be a great team exercise during a team meeting. You could take notes in a simple table that is accessible by the whole team and includes everyone’s name, work hours, whether they are in office or remote, and their communication priority order. Make sure to update and share this document every time you get a new team member! 


You'll help us build better habits

After you’ve talked about your preferences, don’t be afraid to keep bringing them up - remind others. We are human after all, and sometimes we forget. Having someone being diligent about keeping communication preferences top of mind for us can help us all remember to grow in this space.


So what about you? How do you keep a healthy communication footprint? Let us know in the comments or on social media!



Topics: Sinikka Waugh, Communication & Collaboration

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!





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