Thursday, 13 October 2011

Is technology taking away from respectful communication?

Recently, the news has focused on technology and how it impacts our lives. The death of Steve Jobs made us all think about how our lives have been altered by iTunes and the iPhone.  At the same time, Health Canada issued an advisory last week that cel phone use should be limited for children and adults alike because of the WHO's findings that cel phone use may be linked to brain cancer. (Have you read the fine print that says cel phones are to be held an inch away from the ear?)

I am all for technology and how it makes our lives easier.  My concern is that technology is enabling us to not treat each other with the respect we deserve when communicating.   (It drives me crazy when someone texts someone else while they're talking to me.)

Here are some simple tips for respectful, effective communication.

1. If you have something really important to say, it is better to say it than to send an email.  It's common courtesy to give the other person the opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity instead of wondering what you mean.
2. Make an effort to be present and engaged while in discussion.  The other person will sense if you are not, and you mightn't have a second opportunity to convince them you're worth talking to.
3. Evaluate each opportunity before you speak.  If someone isn't a morning person, don't talk to them in the morning. If your colleague or boss is busy at work, save discussions for later if possible.  If you can't, in the words of Sara Knapp, Executive Coach - Be brief, be bright, be gone.
4. Ensure all criticism is constructive and try to balance the good with the bad.  People will be more apt to talk to you and work with you if you occasionally have something nice to say.
5. Try to listen more than you speak.  Each discussion is a learning opportunity and if you're doing all the talking, what will you learn?

Do you think that technology is taking away from respectful communication?  Let me know what you think.

Rachel Pardy
Cahoots Communications Inc.

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