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VOL. 130 | NO. 220 | Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Angela Copeland

Is Anybody There?

By Angela Copeland

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In today’s modern world of communication, it should be easier than ever to get in touch with colleagues. We have so many options including the old fashioned telephone, the cell phone, email, text messages and even social media.

Our technology has become so advanced that someone can call your office telephone, that call can be automatically forwarded to your cell phone, and when the caller leaves a voice message, you can receive an email transcribing it for you. Talk about fancy!

With all these advanced options, why does it seem to be so hard to reach out to a new contact these days? As much as it has helped, these advances have, in some ways, created barriers between us. They have complicated things in a way we haven’t experienced before.

If a caller’s phone number is not on someone’s caller ID, or in his or her cell phone address book, there’s a good chance the call may be “filtered.” The receiver will wait until the caller leaves a voicemail, will listen, and then decide if and when they want to call back.

Many people also expect every communication to come through their own preferred channel. For example, if they prefer email but receive a call, they may not answer. If they prefer text, but receive an email, they may not respond.

Ironically, we are at a point in time that many different generations are converging in the workplace. And, not surprisingly, members of those generations often have different communication preferences.

They may also follow different rules of etiquette around communication. For example, one person may find it perfectly acceptable to text coworkers any time of the day or night, assuming if they’re not available, they’ll turn off their phone. Another person may find text messages past 5 p.m. to be offensive and disruptive to their personal life.

Where does this leave us? How can we best decide how to use all of these different communication technologies effectively?

I have personally reflected on this issue with regards to my own communication style. Honestly, I prefer email. I have an excellent tracking system for email that ensures I document everything well and get back to clients in a timely manner. But not everyone prefers email, so I am starting to branch out more into phone, text messaging and social media.

And, it makes sense. When a customer wants to reach a business, they expect to be able to do it in whatever way is easiest for them, the consumer. Whether it’s email, phone or social media, they expect a response. Don’t you?

When it comes to work, you have to decide what’s best for you. But, try to think of yourself as the CEO of your very own small business. Your colleagues are your customers. The more channels you are able to reasonably manage, the better. Try not to assume that everyone else has the same communication style preferences as you and you’ll go far at building relationships. Don’t leave your colleagues asking, “Is anybody there?”

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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