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When Too Many Communications Options are…Too Many

Yes, I’m old enough to remember the advent of the fax machine. I also remember dialing with rotary phones.

(Fun Fact: My first “real” job was in sales in Long Beach, California. At that time, there were four different area codes within 15 miles. Every call required dialing – on a rotary dialer - 9 plus 1, plus the area code, plus the 7 digit number. Half the time I got near end, my finger slipped, and I’d have to start all over again).

Times have changed. I started in the workforce in the late 1980's. The advent of new technologies since then have been equally helpful and amazing.

There’s no way most businesses could have survived the pandemic had it happened in 2010. Technology has accelerated options and facilitated the trend toward remote and hybrid work.

The problem is…it’s too much. Way too much.

Digital communications are great. But there are no guidelines for which method to use and when. On top of that, communication hasn’t exactly been great in the workplace to begin with.

For years, I've said any communication is better than no communication.

But now…it’s too much and too confusing.

At one point in the pandemic, I was navigating (with only 14 employees and about 45 clients I work directly with):

  • Phone calls on my work line

  • Phone calls on my cell phone

  • Text messages on my cell phone

  • Slack – on my desktop, cell phone and laptop

  • E-mail. Oy. E-mail for 9 different addresses.

  • Google chat

  • Zoom calls

  • Notifications from project management software (we went through 3 programs in 16 months)

Interruptions came non-stop. And I failed to discern which methods to use for the most (or least) urgent issues. The result – EVERYTHING became equally important. Critical projects fell through the cracks. I didn’t respond back to messages, or phone calls.

And – did you notice which element was missing?

In-person communication, the most effective way of communicating.

As much as I love new technology and generally embrace every new type of gadget, it was overwhelming. I make my living by helping businesses make the complex, simple.

Just because a technology is available doesn’t mean we need to use it all the time. Find a pattern that works, and stick to it. Simplify; don’t make things more complex.

And I can’t help but wonder: How did we ever survive without all of this?



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