I read an article on Inc.com titled This One Tool Will Double Your Productivity Overnight, by Andrew Griffiths, and it got me thinking. Every since I improved the email and collaboration system of a PreK-12 school back in 2001 I noticed a change in the community. Over time it became clear that end-users take every opportunity to stay where they are and fire off emails instead of picking up the phone or walking over to have a conversation with the other person. It seems better electronic communication systems foster less real communication regardless of proximity or personal connection.
Some users resort to email for unkind messages meant to control, cover up insecurities, show off someone else’s shortcomings, etc. Ironically, the effects a good email platform has on a learning community bother me. Here are some of the things that really get under my skin:
- Screen time increases
- Human communication decreases
- Pressure on immediate feedback increases
- Stress levels related to email communications rise
- Less profound human connections around the office
When dealing with other humans our default should be to communicate with them face-to-face.
Of course it’s not all bad, but I put a premium on human connections over electronic ones.
Every now-and-again I read
I read about Albert Mehrabian’s work some time ago in another publication. He wrote that human communication consists of 7% verbal (words), 38% tone (tonality) and 55% facial/body (physical) expression. In his findings I found an affinity to my intuition that changes brought on by the systems I was implementing were not all good.
Going for 45%
I know there is no way to rid ourselves of email and other types of electronic humanless communication. However, there are ways to go beyond the 7% (typed)verbal communication that email allows.
Today I embarked on my own experimentation of improving my communication with others.
I had a major update to send to faculty regarding work that will be done over the summer break. Some of that work will impact their tech-world on campus. I decided to use my voice as much as my typing in order to send out a clearer, yet shorter, message. In the email to faculty I included typed highlights/takeaways and attached an audio file I recorded that includes more detail regarding the work and its effects. I figured it was a good way to get my toes wet in this new way of leveraging our own technology for better communication. As time goes on I hope to be doing more recordings for individual mail responses as well as group messages.
I’ve read somewhere else how having a human face on a corner of the screen while viewing an online presentation helps the viewer connect more to the work. As I continue to try to take the “e” out of electronic communications maybe I’ll send out a video instead of a voice recording.
I’ll share more as I learn more…stay tuned!