#37 COMMUNICATION MEDIA: Phone or Email with HR expert Tamara Finlay
Let's do this. Let's talk about topic. I'm Dr Andrea Wojnowski. You can call me Andrea. Thanks for you're listening to talk about talk. This is where we come to learn and talk about all things communication. My goal is to help you learn the communication skills that will catapult to put your career and enhance your relationships because when we communicate effectively we can be a better manager colleague parent partner and friend. Today we're talking about the communication channels or media that we use you know as in should I text or pick up the phone. This is a common question that I get from talk about talk listeners. Actually it's often not a question but rather a complaint usually about other people not using our preferred communication methods. So here's a question for you. How do you feel about the phone about making phone calls? Is it your Go-to or do you dread calling people. And how do you feel when your phone rings. Do you love it or do you love it. It seems like many people have strong opinions about the phone. You may recall a few episodes ago when I interviewed Anna Serano on the topic of authenticity. She she admitted that her friends and family tease her about calling too much often about things that she could have texted or emailed but then there are people that do the exact opposite right in in this episode we consider all of the communication media choices that we have. You'll learn a few simple frameworks that lists the important criteria for choosing which communication channel or media. Yeah you should be using. Here's how the episode will go. I will briefly introduce our guest human resources expert. Tamara Finley and then we'll get right into the interview at at the end. I'll highlight of frameworks that she introduced. And yes you can access this summary and the transcript anytime in the show notes on the talk about talk website at the beginning of the the interview. You'll hear our guest tomorrow. Finley highlight that while more and more APPs platforms and communication channels are being introduced. It seems that nothing is falling off. I think this is an important point. It's true right. There is still type letters but also email and text and social media and the telephone and skype or facetime and on on and on the list goes it's overwhelming and stressful to track all of these communication channels to decide which ones to use and often our preferences and assumptions are not aligned with others. There's this is something that I often hear. Talk about. Talk podcast interviews with guest experts. What I'm asking the five rapid fire questions at the end? That question is which communication medium do you prefer for personal communication. I've definitely noticed. A correlation between age and media choice or several younger people seem to prefer text and email while the older people seem to prefer phone and face to face now of course there are many exceptions but my observation of this correlation is definitely what initiated. Today's podcast topic all right. Let's get into it. Let me introduce our guest expert tomorrow. Finley Tamara is a passionate proactive. results-focused human resources leader WHO's known for translating Business needs into integrated human resources solutions in her career to date she's helped firms ranging from startups to large global organizations maximize their people in culture as a competitive advantage and she's done so in several industries including financial services wealth management real estate and technology just to name a few Tamara has a BA from bishops. And she earned her human capital strategist and chartered director designations. She's also earned an executive. Mba from the University of Saint Gallen in Switzerland and an MBA from the rotman school at the University of Toronto. So she definitely knows her stuff. Tamara is currently the vice president of people and Culture at progressive. A fast growing growing fintech startup. Thank you so much for joining us to MIRA. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for including me okay. Let's back up and provide some context. Techs I what are the main media that you've observed people using at work to communicate now. Obviously there's all kinds. They're all your typical ones. Sounds like email tax chats everything else the list continues to grow. And nothing's falling off. So I think that's where all of a sudden the piece of change is just so rapid fire so as our world gets faster and faster and more complicated like to bring it back to basics. Why are we communicating communicating? We're communicating. Because we want to connect with people so we wanna connect either intellectually or emotionally or. It's to do something. It's the more the action piece of it. So it's either the head the heart or the hands right and so depending on what you're trying to engage is going to depend on. What communication ACACIA style? You'RE GONNA use or communication channel so if you're trying to engage the head you've got a lot more communication channels that you can use. You can pretty much. It's used most of them so whether it deems still taxed in face to face in meetings pretty much any of it works but when you're trying to connect with the heart it's all about emotion Solo relationships so nothing beats that more in person face to face because fifty five percent is the body language and so you lose all that and that's why there's so many misinterpretations when it's heavily used of email l. or text or other communication other than the face to face and if you're in a sensitive context as you said infant's emotional or heart driven than perhaps that non verbal communication is even more important exactly because it and you want a bit of more. The two-way dialogue is really hard to have to a dialogue in an email or a text. That's a great point in the hands. So the thirty so the three ages are the head heart and hands the third one. The hands nonce really where you can be quite directive task oriented head. And that's really where the written word is fine and that's where emails chat taxed is absolutely fine. Okay so the hands just to clarify is about what we're doing next. It's clarifying next. Steps for example in a project at work could be could be a subordinate clarifying next steps with his or her boss or vice versa. Exactly Oren event just confirming details location that type of thing okay. You said so many things there that caught my attention that we could unpack your first point about more and more medium being introduced into our communication opportunities. Of course that's true but I hadn't actually thought about the fact that we are being overwhelmed with with more and more APPs platforms and different communication medium. And nothing's falling off. It's so true and it's interesting because having worked my Ktar career in more mature organizations that are quite traditional in terms of how we approached work when a joined Fintech company just over a year ago I had quite a bit culture shock so I was used to somewhat less paper but this was literally no paper all the offices cubicles or open spaces. They're lucky if you you gotta drawer so clearly. It was all on the digital in one of our key. Communication tools is slack now. It's I think they would describe but as a collaborative team tool we use it for pretty much all our internal communications you can do it individually as text messaging you can do did as groups which are called slack channels and. I'm embarrassed to say that it took me probably over a month to figure it. You could actually call through slack. Oh really I didn't know that. So just for some other context. Here I have an episode on conquering your email. Inbox and slack came up as an opportunity as technology. Hack to conquer your email and I read in a couple of articles that it is widely used within organizations and previously some industry observers or analysts thought that it may replace email but it certainly isn't doing remember it sounds like it's alive and well doing well you tell me. Does it work. I think it's fantastic. It's certainly what I love. It was actually refreshing once. I figure it out and you can also attach tach items to it as well documents and what have you and you can delete it and remove it if it's highly sensitive confidential. So that's obviously a lot of the work that I do what I love about. It is that it's all internal so if I'm looking or referencing backdating from anyone within the organization I go slack. Email typically is just for external. Okay so this is really new to anyone over the age of thirty. I'm sure or anyone who's not in a startup environment quite honestly it'll take a while before before large organizations. I'm sure there's groups within larger organizations that are using it the other thing that you mentioned your head heart and Hands Framework is absolutely beautiful. It's it's probably an effective way of just making a simple decision about what communication tool you can use so as an HR professional. Do you hear from people bowl or perhaps of observe them failing to use the most effective communication medium so not thinking about the three inches. Of course I think we all get caught up the tonight and unfortunately being in human resources we often see the negative impact of unintended consequences. HR is not hearing about the great wins. I mean unless someone's formerly winning award probably right. But they're not coming to you saying guess what we did great today. Thank you with problems right. Exactly a lot of the time we're cleaning up masses quite frankly you heard of situations where either people are complaining complaining about other people not using their communication medium effectively or that was your diagnosis right. So there's something catastrophic happened within the organization there was something blew up and then your diagnosis is well. You know what it may have been because of the communication medium. They should have been face to face when they were using tax for sure. Obviously that's more more of a regular occurrence as get more and more communication channels. One of the things that we try to do is understand. It's about behaviors. But it what's coming across is being communicated to us is about a person it so in your experience in helping people to communicate indicate most effectively have you noticed a correlation between age and media preference. I think the reality is millennials are the first generation that have grown up with the Internet route so obviously their natural goto and obviously gross generalizations is quick taxed and things on their smartphone in all that but just like with any other generation. You're going to get the full spectrum in as is a Jax love texting in the right circumstances so we shouldn't be stereotyping. Broadly that everyone in generation said access certain way. Everyone and generation X. Asks a certain way millennials act a certain way but they're probably as you say are some general trends one of my listeners. Actually on social media was sharing his story story about personally hiring a contractor and this gentleman is in his. I think his early Seventies. He's working fulltime highly productive and he went and to hire a contractor in this contractor insisted on emailing and texting him. And he's like we need to talk. He said I gave him three shots. Where I said we can set up a meeting or you can call me again? We can set up a meeting or you can call me three times and then he said I just let it go. I went to another guy. Yes he was older. He came and saw me me. We communicated through telephone and he got the job so I mean there actually is something at stake here to me. That story illustrates gentleman who was trying to who provide an olive branch. Like talk to me on my terms. And here's what they are and it was ignored and the guy didn't get the job so I think it's valid point. It's a two way street again. Know no your audience. Regardless of the age of this gentleman he preferred to communicate in person. If this is your boss in its preferred communication. Haitian style you learn to adapt. I actually created an acronym ase you'll love your because it's helpful to remember right absolutely. We listened acronym. Let's do it exactly so it's as snow. Your audience is the a shirt and is it. The individual is group. What's their preferred? Method of communication. Sean Kerr and then the sea is content. So why are you. Communicating is a confidential or. Not In what is it. That you're communicating kidding but that also be the head heart and hands thing yes yeah exactly so you actually have your three h framework coming into your AC acronym It's and then the is the environment. A lot of the work idea was confidential. If I want to have a confidential discussion knowing that the person that's on the receiving achieving end isn't a car with a bunch of other people. I clearly don't want to do it that way. I may choose to do a tax to or schedule some other time. Brilliant when you and I were. We're preparing for this interview. I- independently created a list of criteria for choosing the most appropriate and effective communication medium. And you've just gone on through how you can use this framework but are there any other specific criteria sure. Email is a great tool. If you're reconfirming decisions vision that were made steps next action items if you want to go back and reference something. That's actually a great tool. So that would be in your three h framework the work that would be the hand the hand exactly handwritten or typed letters again. This comes back to what I said at the beginning where we just keep adding stuff. But nothing's nothing's coming off. Some people may have forgotten about that and in fact as I thought about this like could you even recognize your colleagues or friends handwriting at this point interesting question yeah us oh think of the impact that would have though if you actually gave someone a handwritten note true because it's blow them away exactly a really would would stand out for sure. It depends on what you're trying to do phone calls face to face again. That's where coming back to the heart if you WANNA connect emotionally if you want to brainstorm if you want a two way dialogue. That's where that's probably the best use in other way of putting that I think is if the tone really matters of course tone always as matters but if the tone really matters if something sensitive and you WanNa Capture People's body language that's where it comes into play as well. Now one of the downsides of data's which is really about collaboration it just takes more time so you have to factor that in and build that in and that's why the other thing is I think people are defaulting to do the tax. Or what have you is. Because it's fast but what it does is it. Takes it off your plate and put on someone else's plate and you had no idea if they've actually she caught that ball. This is a diversion from this list of communication media options. But you're making me think about the implications of people working at home so you know what's interesting interesting. If you do it remotely all the time absolutely. I know of a company how they've done this. Because they've got a lot of remote workers around the world which I found fascinating fascinating is they have designated robots with video cameras that you can control remotely to do your drop ins. Oh my gosh we need to add this to our list of application me is mind blowing by where there's a will there's a way. Wow you know where I thought you were headed. I thought you were GonNa Essay on the two days per week when you're at home you do as much as you can on email a little bit on phone. Think about the things that you can't do face to face and then on the two or three days when you're in your office of course that's when you book your formal meetings and you do your informal lunches or dropping by someone's office to say hello or to share something absolutely lutely. That's where you just have to be very diligent and really make a concerted effort. Look it's really hard to build relationships remotely. It's easier to maintain remotely so even if you're remote worker it's if you can have that initial period building so whether you go there on site for a brief period of time up front then it's much easier to do that. That could also be a criteria for choosing the media right so one of the other criteria that you can use for deciding which medium is most appropriate and effective is the stage of the relationship. That was not on my list before. That's actually a really good way of looking at it. I haven't thought about it that way. But you're right. You're in a different way. Wow so all. Companies Technology companies piece entitled Technology Enabled. And we're saying that pretty much every company I know is saying we're trying to maximize people and cultures are competitive advantage even but the people that are winning in this are really the ones that can execute effectively on it. What do you think about zoom calls or skype calls or facetime? I think it's a great proxy. See for face to face. Obviously you need to have good technology to bandwidth so it can be effective. It's not a hundred percent but it's definitely better because you do see see some of the body language you do see some of the interaction if it's more of a group thing but you still don't get all because once the video is turned off. You've no idea what's going on Afterwards that's right. There's the explicit conversation that's going on and then there's the subtext unless you're face to face talking to someone one. There's often a subtext even in board meetings we think about people texting each other under the table right. They've literally got their phone under the table and they're texting other people around. Oh Oh for sure. One of the key things that I learnt and really resonated with me is is really maximize that subject line. I'm one of these. People that gets bombarded bartered with e mails. I'm scanning if the subject lion attracts my attention. Then I open the email otherwise remains closed forever right. I actually mentioned that. What in the podcast episode about conquering your email inbox? You can use it to highlight important details. I guess especially again back to your point about email. It's the hands. It's the tasks and the next steps and what better way to highlight that he exactly so you want in terms of action required by day to you want to highlight late. Whatever the key critical items are in the email the other thing that I learnt? How do you know what you're communicating is being received as intended handed great question? That's why we have a lot of these challenges is because there's so much room for misinterpretation when it's just words on paper in email what have have you and not the full body. Language and nonverbal cues email is really more about one way. Yes you could argue. It's too about how do you know they've even opened your email all right. How do you know they read it? How do you know the action it so I think that's one of the reasons that emojis have become so popular so quickly? Right is people are saying. I want to make sure the person person knows. I'm being sarcastic so I'm going to put a little winky Emoji or I want to make sure the person understands that. That was a joke. So I'm GONNA put the laughter Emoji at. That's very valid point. They're trying to put a bit of the emotion accentuating their key message right. But it's almost a cliche right that you're not sure if the person was serious or not and it's email and oh boy you're missing so much context of the communication and where exactly so I have another question for you. Related to e mail. What do you think about reply all? I'm not a big Fan. Dan and it really depends on what it is if it's something that's a value to everyone on the distribution list than it makes sense the majority of the time I don't believe that actually add any value in just clatters people's email box even more and it makes you look bad because you're not valuing and respecting their our time or their inbox so to speak right so I agree a hundred percent. I think people need to really think hard about each individual. And if you're like why can't think about each individual will then take them off the list exactly so again that comes to ace right audience. Absolutely so who is your audience and then you go into the content. So why are you communicating. What value is it to them? So that's why I really like these two frameworks 'cause you can pretty much bring it all back to that. That's fantastic so we can fold in all the other criteria that we talked about some communication medium may be more expensive so I'm thinking at the extreme extreme is you have to fly to another continent or whatever another city to meet with someone face to face. That's kind of the extreme cost right and that's pretty much the only the one that really has a cost associated to up because I would argue the other costs are the cost of doing business. If you don't have access to some type type of video conference in today's Day and age than I don't know how you're still in business to be honest really the the travel costs for the face to face. And that's where hopefully there's been been somebody for the initial relationship building and then the maintaining can be done in the video conferencing or other methods the other side of cost. That's not monetary so is the convenience factor the time factor. And there's kind of two ways of thinking about that as well. There's how much time is it costing me to produce this communication this one way communication that I've initiated and then for the receiver. It's do they have to respond immediately or is for example. Picking up the phone right or can they do it on their own time. And this is what I hear from a lot of younger people. I'd rather text or email because then I get it off my plate and it's up to the person when it's convenient for them to respond. Ah I mean so. I'm basing this comment about older people preferring phone based on five rapid fire questions and I always ask. What's your communication medium of choice for her casual conversations and there is a very very high correlation between age and media choice where older people are very consistently saying face to face in the phone and younger people are saying Texan email and again I think it all comes down to the environment? We all grew up and it depends how how much of a learner. You are. A lifelong learner. I love learning about new tools and new things. And if there's a better faster way of doing it absolutely but this also oh reminds me more. About how millennials approach work in general And an example is when work has being assigned to me as a gen-x ax. I think okay. These are all my tools such as Microsoft office. What have you? How can I make the tools work for me to get my job done what? I've been fascinated in absolutely love is what I've seen millennials though I google anything and reach including the how to like how to do what I've been told to do. Exactly Ackley and reach out to their network and they can get a far more comprehensive solution way faster. That's not even the future. This is the now so quite quite frankly. I think some of the dinosaurs need to start adopting but also the millennials need to also adopt. I think there's a happy medium and is knowing when to use what right so I just recently whenever an appliance breaks so my first it was. My dishwasher was leaking and then my refrigerator's started leaking. Guess what fixed both by going to youtube and and my my husband's like what the heck and I said so. The poor appliance repair people. They're being outsourced to youtube. Although some of the more pioneering ones uh-huh are actually producing videos and they are getting tens of thousands of hits. Well and I think this all comes to technological advances in general all all the basic stuff. Absolutely how fantastic is that because leave the repair people to do the complex stuff. I'm sure that's what they want. Anyway they don't want to be doing the basic stuff so you can apply that to pretty much any work so as long as it's too seen learning and growing and we all need to do that you're either going forward or going backwards just standing still. I will quote you on that I like that. Is there anything else you want to add. I think one of the most important things that I learned from this conversation is the audience content and environment acronym so the ace acronym and then within that particularly under the content the head heart and enhance framework. Is there anything else you want to add for listeners. Just to think about when they're choosing which medium to use for communication I think a good reminder is just remember we're all human we're not robots to good reminder tipped us to pause and think about why they're doing what they're doing sending the right communication to the right people bolt at the right time. Okay so now. We're going to move onto the five rapid fire questions so first question. What are your pet peeves? I think my the biggest pet peeve is close mindedness. I'm a lifelong learner. I love to learn. I think it's really important that everyone does I. Yeah I can imagine someone coming into your office. Who's struggling and you may be diagnosing? The fact that they are not a lifelong learner. And they don't have an open mind. I think the reason why people aren't aren't is because of fear and so then it comes back to the scarf model right. You're either moving forward or backwards. There's no standing still so people may think they're standing still when actually they're being left behind really. That is absolutely eloquent. And I am definitely going to quote you end up in a big red box on social media next question. What type of learner are you? I'm a fast learner for sure and I learned by doing so doing in and seeing okay question number three introvert or extrovert but I definitely get my energy from people. So I guess that makes me an extrovert. I can definitely tell that you're an extrovert. Probably love being interviewed but also doing interviewing for sure I love both sides. I can see that okay. Hey pushing number four communication preference for personal conversations so my my bias. I put it out there my personal preference because I'm relationship. Asian ship person. I love people and really connecting emotionally. WanNa one so. I'm all about the face to face. Okay last rapid fire question. Is there a podcast ask or a blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending the most the first one that jumps to mind is fast company. Are you familiar with fast. Company subscribe subscribe. I absolutely love it. I was very excited. When Fast Company went online and Taxi Gephardt? I actually started as a computer programmer in electronic banking at one. We have our big Five banks and meander my way intake jar so I love all their focus on new technology on innovation and that really Fuels my creativity. I'm with you and I will gladly share link for the listeners to that is there anything else. I'm trying to think. Ah got a few others another one. That actually is a friend of mine's daughter. Her name is allegra shot and she's a lifestyle L. and fashion blogger instagram or in youtuber. And she's been doing it since she was in high school and because she's a millennial I'm fascinated fascinated how they choose to communicate and interact with each other and the broader population. So I'll get the link from you for her as well for sure for her instagram account in a youtube channel. Is there anything else you want to add to share with listeners. About choosing the optimal communication medium for their communication. I think it's just this again. Another reminder that were human in humans wanted can. We've got an errand Wanda need to connect emotionally so just pause is before you just start hitting send or firing things off and just again. I think the frameworks are helpful. Especially the the head heart and hand to figure out what it is. You're trying to do and why brilliant. Thank you very much for your time and for your insights mayor. You're welcome my a pleasure. Thank you for having me task. Wow I learned a lot from tomorrow. That was a fun interview. Did you hear US laughing. I especially like the framework that Tamara Samarra outlined frameworks can be incredibly helpful. Because they're easy to remember right so let me briefly. Summarize them for us now I. There's the ace acronym where a equals audience. C. Equals content and equals environment and within ACE under the sea for content. There's the three h framework where the three H is is our head heart and hands. So yeah I guess. This is a framework inside of a framework but it does a great job of highlighting everything we should consider when choosing a communication channel title. STARTING WITH ACE then I. There's a equals audience. We need to consider the other parties. With whom were communicating. I love at this point. The audience is his first because it really is the most important thing this is also where the age thing comes up. Remember the beginning. I mentioned the correlation between age and media preference for communication nation. It's true that millennials are digital natives. And they're often most comfortable with texting for example but as Tamara reminds us we should never over generalize. There are plenty any of younger people who love the phone and older folks who prefer texting there also other important audience related criteria to consider like is the audience and individual or a group and importantly what's their preferred method of communication last under audience. We should also consider the stage of the relationship. If it's a newer relationship face to face is probably ideal later on texting and e mail can maintain that relationship but it's very difficult to build a relationship without some face to face contact then the second part of the acronym is see for content. This is where we can think of head heart or hands. This is a way of considering which communication channel we should use for which type of content I head to MIRA said that. If you're trying to engage the head you've probably got a lot more communication channels you can use and you can pretty much use any of them This is the objective kind of content. That's less emotional. You might want to consider the preference of the other person here or the extent to which you're trying to engage the other person in a two way dialogue. It's more difficult to have a meaningful two way dialogue in an email or text for example versus face to face or on the phone. The second H is heart when you're trying to connect with the heart. It's it's all about emotions. It's all about relationships if the content is emotionally charged it could be because it's a huge decision or because open dialogue is ideal nothing nothing then beats in person or face to face communication and if that is impossible try conference call and if that's not possible then the phone is probably the next best because because at least you can hear the other person's tone of voice and the last of the three inches hands so if the content of the communication is directive or task oriented like say confirming next steps location and timing details the written word like in emails or texts is just fine back then to the ace acronym we've already summarized Mariah is a equals audience and see equals content. The last element is E. equals environment. This is where you can consider other factors such as timeliness in confidence or financial cost in choosing how to communicate all right. That's it for this episode. I hope you found this helpful and I really hope you'll try the ace. The three h frameworks and let me know how it goes. I leave you with just two things. The first is that in this week's talk about talk email blog. I'm planning to list all of the communication channels or media and highlight the pros and the cons of each so. That'll be very helpful for us. If you're already signed up for the email blog you'll receive it automatically if you're not signed up yet just go to talk about talk dot com website to do so and you'll also receive a free printable. PDF of the ABCD's the five live simple steps to improve your communication skills and you can always find all of the past blogs on the talk about dot com website under the blog. Tab The second and last thing I want to leave you with. Is this quote from Tamara. She actually said this twice in the interview she said quote. You're either moving forward or backward. There's no standing still people people may think they're standing still when actually they're being left behind. I love that. Thank you to tomorrow. Finley for sharing your expertise with us and thanks to you for listening talk soon.