Are You Addicted to Email and Texting?
By Joanne Schlosser, ACC, SPHR, MBA
Do you sleep with your phone next to your bed? Is it the last thing you look at before drifting off and the first thing you check on waking? Are you better at typing on it than speaking into it?
Some surveys say that email and texts now consume up to 40% of our workday. In the past few weeks, three incidents drove home the challenges of digital communication.
- A colleague said “Call me — I’m 500 emails behind and will probably never see yours.”
- Another said that her healthcare company instituted email- and text-free Fridays internally, as a way to get people to actually speak to one another.
- A potential client said she wants to improve relationships. Two teams work together and yet they send emails to people who are sitting less than 10 feet away.
What does this say about these people and their organizations? As the use of e-mail and texting increases in an organization, the overall volume of other kinds of communication drops — particularly routine friendly greetings. This causes people to feel disconnected from coworkers. This was noted in an article in Organizational Science over a decade ago.
Saying “Hello” really does matter — it’s social glue. One of my first coaching assignments was with a leader who walked past his team every day and never greeted them, and they hated it.
It’s said that Millennials are more comfortable communicating digitally than face to face. That may work between Millennials, but Gen X and Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face communication. It also makes me curious about the long-term impact of communication when the medium is a “sound bite” suitable for Twitter.
Personally interact with colleagues and team members daily. In many organizations, we call this “rounding,” or purposefully checking in with others. Walk down the hall when possible to have a conversation, rather than sending a complex email that might be misinterpreted. Over distance, use the phone, or Skype, FaceTime, and other web technology to see the other person. The nonverbal cues you’ll see and hear will improve the accuracy of the message. In the long run, it saves time by reducing miscommunications and building stronger relationships.
About the Author
Joanne Schlosser is a consultant and certified coach who works with high performing leaders and physicians who want to grow their career to the next level. With a vibrant 25-year career in business leadership, Joanne’s clients include over 100 organizations, ranging from small rising stars to large Fortune 100 meteors. Joanne works extensively as a change agent, with projects ranging from developing a New Leader Experience training program that improved efficiency and retention to the opening of a state-of-the-art hospital. For more information, visit her website http://risingstarscoach.com, email Joanne@risingstarscoach.com, or call her at 480.840.6024.