I tend to put a very strong emphasis in my life on efficiency. I strive to squeeze as much productivity out of my time as possible to allow me to get more done and have more time to do other things I want to do besides being productive. In general I’m very happy with what this has allowed me to do in life. I get a lot done and am able to still keep my sanity (well…most of the time at least). This mindset, though, does have its drawbacks at times. One thing that I definitely give up is a degree of communication.

In my efforts to remain productive, I often keep my communication short. Emails are often a couple sentences at the extreme, project descriptions are brief, and overall my communication style is narrow and to the point. This can be a good thing in moderation, but at the extreme can lead to problems. Sometimes I end up writing more than I would’ve at the start because of a misunderstanding due to my brief correspondence. Other times my emotion or prioritization of items is lost in the brevity of my replies. In any case, the problem is that in some situations I end up under-communicating, and these issues end up decreasing efficiency because of the problems that arise from them (as well as annoying my friends and coworkers who are left confused).

It’s been said many times that one can’t find the limits of something without pushing one’s self to them. I think in this case I’ve gone past the limit a bit, and I believe it’s time to swing things back in the other direction. As such, I’m going to try a different approach for a while. I’m going to write a few extra sentences to get my point across, repeat myself if I think it even might be necessary, and sometimes go so far as to ask questions to ensure comprehension on both my part and the part of whomever I’m speaking with. In short, I’m going to try what I would describe to be over-communicating for a bit to help find the most appropriate level in order to balance my determination for efficiency and productivity with the ability to properly communicate ideas and emotions with my friends and coworkers. An interesting experiment if nothing else…

No matter what shakes out of this, though, it has certainly brought to light for me the value and importance of communication. Whether it’s between coworkers, friends, or a significant other, without good communication you’ll end up confused, unhappy, and feeling repressed. As important as I deem productivity to be, it can’t come at the cost of your relationships. Communication also helps to lead to better team (as opposed to personal) productivity. Although it might slow me down a little to spend extra time explaining something more thoroughly, it might save the team as a whole a significant amount of time as everyone else is much more clear on the problem and/or potential solutions.

Do not undervalue good communication skills, and take the time to properly communicate your thoughts/emotions with those around you. Communication is too important to be ignored.

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9 Responses to Communication

  1. Pingback: High Fiver, Finger Pointer | Andrew Hyde - Humble Yet Bold

  2. mehmet says:

    It's great that you are constantly analyzing and trying to improve the process of communication. I can imagine that having people around asking you endless questions after a long period of having this as a one man operation is really bugging you, but as the team grows that inevitable overhead (Brooks' Law) will force you to spend less time on fun stuff like coding and more time on telling people what to do, which will make communication part even more important. Nice post!

  3. I usually try to include a little of the thought process that goes behind an answer to a question. A little context always helps communications (usually)…not always…sometimes make the problem worse 🙂

  4. Kaobear says:

    I unfortunately have a tendency to do the exact opposite most of the time unfortunately. I stupidly assume that I have properly communicated what I want to be done to those that answer to me and, because of this, spend most of my time adding to what I originally said in the first place.

  5. Communication is a tough thing. I find myself, even in the process of "over communicating" in finding my words misinterpreted. And yes, it does crush efficiency when you communicate something that needs to be done and yet the person has no idea what task that is or is not given the tools to find out how to do it.

    Also if you are the boss it can lead to anxiety to leave such communication as "see me." A person with a vivid imagination can come up with many scenarios for what that means.

  6. dgcohen says:

    Jon – i have this same problem. nuff said. 😉

  7. Dave says:

    Some things we all have problem with communication is the different modes of communication we have today. Sometimes I find it so difficult to communicate my point through email, and would rather spend the extra hassle calling the person on the phone to get my point across. Then there are times when I will do the opposite. With some many ways to communicate, sometimes people misinterpret what is being said, and that can dilute the meaning of the conversation. I would have to say that what is most important about communication is the mode you use.

  8. jon says:

    Wow….that was deep.

  9. michael says:

    Jon, this post speaks to me. I think this will be a big step for us (never mind KT). Talk about opening up and team building…who needs a consultant when there's introspection like this already going on?!?! Not sure we're at the "help me help you" stage, but we're getting there.