Communication is different on phone vs. email vs. text vs. IM

Tuesday I lost internet for about 8 hours.  It put my communication habits into perspective.  I have developed different ways of communicating with different team members that I interact with.  And surprisingly communication patterns don’t break down by generational hierarchies.

But what I really discovered is how difficult it can be to move from one mode of communication to another.  During the internet outage I lost my ability to communicate by email and IM.  This led to many more phone conversations than I would typically have.  This in turn led me to evaluate why some phone conversations went extremely smoothly and others didn’t.  The root cause – when two of us weren’t used to using that form of communication it caused us to not be able to reference the traditional conversational patterns we relied on.

Conversational patterns don’t translate across communication mediums.  A joke that works on the phone likely doesn’t work in the others.  The briefness, yet instantaneous-ness of IM can’t be replicated in a phone call or in text.

What does this all mean?  Well – it means that we fall into patterns we sometimes have to quickly back ourselves out of.  It’s yet another area we should all practice on occasion because sometimes the internet goes down and we still need to communicate.


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