What is Your Smart Phone Teaching You about Communication?

In the leadership classes I teach, I get more complaints about Generation Y’s communication skills than almost anything else in the class (other than possibly their apparent lack of motivation).  Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the 4 Cs that are a must have to employers, and communication is one of them.

Apparently, the generation that has, for the most part, always had a cell or smart phone in their hand, is lacking in communication skills.  We all are lacking in this area, but the smart phone is an easy scapegoat.  A prime example of the shift in communication that smart phones have caused is when I heard that at a middle school dance the boys stood one side of the room and the girls stood on the other.  They didn’t dance together or talk face-to-face, they just texted back and forth.

As a young person, you can distinguish yourself by putting down your cell phone and actually having a real conversation with someone.

Turn away from what your smart phone has conditioned you to do: 

  1. If you wouldn’t say it to them in person, don’t “say” it at all. Don’t text it, tweet it, Facebook it or email it.  Don’t SnapChat or Instragram a picture of it.  Also fitting with this, if you wouldn’t say it to them in person, don’t say it to someone else.
  2.  You have two ears and one mouth.  Which should be used more?  (Personal disclaimer: I struggle with this).
  3.  Spelling and grammar matter in a professional setting.   Don’t talk or write a professional email or document like you text.

I do think, however, that the world of personal communication devices has lent some positives to communication.

Turn toward what your smart phone has conditioned you to do:

  1.  Keep it simple.  If it’s too much to fit in a text or in a tweet, consider revising for simplicity whether in written or spoken words.  As Norman Vincent Peale said in his book The True Joy of Positive Living, “much can be said in a few words, provided those words are well chosen.”
  2.  Delay important communication if your mind is occupied elsewhere.   The one thing that you can do with a phone is chose to answer it or not. Same goes with replying to a message.    If you need to have important communication with someone and your mind is elsewhere, your emotional, or tired,  “call them back.”  Think about it before you respond. The worst communication mistakes I’ve made are when it was not the proper time to discuss something in the first place (or I fell victim to my mouth instead of using my ears).

What is the worst communication blunder you see in the workplace?


Want to read more about the other Cs employer want?



Coming up next:  Collaboration.  Want to start thinking about collaboration aka teamwork?  See how it’s linked with communication.


image source: librarysciencelist.com

Mary Ila Ward

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