Got a second?

Actually, it usually takes longer than a second.  This is commonly a large part of our day-to-day activities…talking to people.  You’ve heard the stats – women speak an average of 20,000 words per day while men speak an average of 7,000 words.  While this statistic might be alarming to some, the fact that we are verbally communicating is a major baseline for how we interact with each other.  Whether it’s at work or at home, we have internal, external, and follow-up conversations to help guide us through our daily routines.

Internal Communication

  • Example at work: “Hello Peter, what’s happening…uh, we sort of have a problem here. You apparently didn’t put one of the new cover sheets on your TPS reports. You see, we’re putting the new cover sheets on all TPS reports now before they go out.  Did you see the memo about this?”
  • Example at home: “Hey honey, did you pick the tomatoes in the garden today so the crazy chipmunks don’t ambush the plants and stuff their faces full of them again? I wanted to make some salsa tonight but cannot if we don’t have another batch of tomatoes.”

What if Peter didn’t get a copy of the memo for the new TPS report cover sheets (like that would ever happen!)?  Or what if the chipmunks devoured all the tomatoes (that could definitely happen!)?  The fact is that if we don’t communicate internally with our coworkers and family members, then things might get missed.  When things get missed, then projects, processes, or situations get more complicated than need be.

External Communication

  • Example at work: “Hello Ms. Client, would you have some time tomorrow to sit down face-to-face to review our scope so we’re clear on our proposal for the total precast parking structure?  I’m really excited about this project and want to make sure everything is covered.”
  • Example at home: “Hey neighbor, can you please try to stop your dog from barking at 2am every morning…it’s driving me insane!  Thanks pal!”

Communicating what’s included in the proposal for the total precast parking structure is much easier when all parties are together in one room.  We can open up the drawings, look through the details, and really discuss and learn a lot more than you could from just a dollar amount on a bid form.  I think in-person meetings are best, followed by phone calls, and then email.  However, if you want to shoot your neighbor a text to shut the dog up that’s fine.  Or you could just tweet it – #annoyingdog #neighborhoodlife #muzzle #stoptheinsanity #sleepdeprived.

Follow-Up Communication

  • Example at work: Milton says, “And then Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll and payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh and and and I still haven’t received my paycheck and he took my stapler, and he never brought it back and then they moved my desk to storage room B and there was garbage on it, and I really don’t appreciate garbage.”
  • Example at home: “Hey honey.”
    “Hey sweetie welcome home.”
    “Wait a minute, I don’t see the kids, you picked them up from daycare, right?”
    “Ahhh, no I thought you were going to?”
    “Ahhh, no…uh oh!”

It’s good to see Milton following up to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Apparently, Mr. Lumbergh didn’t communicate all the facts to Milton.  During our business day and especially after meetings, it’s important to follow up to make sure everyone heard the same thing.  The “he-said-she-said” assumptions can sometimes be foggy.  This is where taking meeting minutes and/or emailing out decisions and action items to a group to make sure everyone heard the same thing is key.  And at home, obviously there was a lack of communication on whose responsibility it was to pick up the kids from daycare that day.  But following up before it’s too late helped save the $25 late kid pickup fee.

Mat Boie
Sales – Twin Cities

Reference:  Rappaport, D. and Rotenberg, M. (Producers), & Judge, M. (Director). (1999). Office Space [Motion Picture]. United States: Judgmental Films.