I try very hard not to enrage people, and I think most sane human beings share that goal. But we all unintentionally do things that make each other go “argh.”
Here are four office communication faux pas, in no particular order, that tend to put me in a bad mood:
1) The Impromptu Information Dump
Try not to call people, unannounced, expecting to have a 45-minute conversation about your latest venture right now.
At least ask them first if they have a few minutes to talk before launching into a tirade.
If you want the person on the other end of the line to be fully engaged in the conversation – and I suspect you do – send them some details beforehand and schedule a call once they’ve had a chance to review.
2) The Five-Second Warning
A detailed email pops up in your inbox, followed almost immediately by a ringing phone.
“Did you get my email?”
The rest of the conversation plays out much like the Impromptu Information Dump.
Now, many of us are in dynamic industries and therefore are used to battening down the hatches for last-minute projects. But when you stop to evaluate what’s truly time-sensitive, a lot of requests that set off alarms don’t make the cut.
In all but the most extreme situations, just send the email. Mark it as urgent and include a request to talk as soon as possible, rather than blowing up the recipient’s phone before they’ve even had a chance to read it.
3) The Avoidable Fire Drill
Don’t be that person who waits until the last minute to communicate, then expects everyone else to scramble.
Hey, I get it. Things get lost in the shuffle, and you just now realized that request you received last week needs a response today. I sympathize with you. Really, I do. But a very wise man once gave me this advice:
“A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
Heed these wise words and stop turning your colleagues into headless chickens, running around to meet tight deadlines they were unfairly notified of just a few minutes ago.
Many folks have no problem working off-hours to help someone whose last-minute need is truly out of his or her control. But evaluate these situations wisely and don’t take advantage.
4) The Elusive Requestor
Please, please, please include your contact information in your message, including the best number to reach you. You can even pre-program it to appear in every email.
Just trust me here. You’ll make things easier for everyone.
Those are my four cents. Please weigh in with your communication tips or pet peeves in the comments, because I might be doing something that’s driving people crazy – and I’d like to stop it!