Ann Michael posted an approach to informal communication and building relationships on her blog "Manage to Change". Ann started with the question "Are we on the same page?" and outlined five according assumptions.
While I drafted a comment on her blog I came to the conclusion to post my unstructured thoughts here because they … got a little bit out of hand. So here are some unstructured thoughts on Ann’s five assumptions on communication:
Communication is bi-directional.
Communication needs feedback. No communication without reaction.
Communication is informal before it becomes formal.
Informal interactions help in understanding "the real and detailed message" behind the formal wall. Therefore we even tend to build reliable relations before formal communication.
Communication effectiveness increases as relationships develop.
Communication effecitiveness increases because reliable relationships develop a richer common language and better mutual understandig.
Communication is continuous.
No communication without reaction. If we stop communication (BTW: that’s communication, too) after we exchanged a message – so what was the message for at all?
Very often people establish a formal process after having communicated to develop it and then stop communicating. But every time the process is carried out the process communicates (i.e. with customers, colleagues) and often the other side is frustrated because communication with a process is awful. So change management needs ongoing communication that diffuses hierarchies and organizational borders for evaluating / adapting / creating processes. That’s why I regard "Enterprise 2.0" as a huge opportunity even for companies with a lot of and very formal processes.
Communication is like a marriage.
If you stop communication you should get a divorce. Otherwise you should try to understand why your partner communicated or did certain things in a certain manner. You only will be on the same page and will gain understanding by communicating. Things may go wrong, mistakes happen. You have to communicate to put things straight. Unless you don’t want to – then you have to decommission your relationship and to file for divorce.
I guess we all are on the same page, aren’t we?