Tech & Work

The trickle-down theory of communication

With all the means of communication available to people, some still don't know how to use them to convey information.

It is the strangest contradiction, but it seems like the more means of communication available to corporate workers, the poorer the communication is. And I'm not talking about IM abbreviations.

I'm going to take it upon myself to name a disorder for this: Delusions of Communication Syndrome.

Delusions of Communication Syndrome occurs when a subject has an email conversation with someone, or maybe a small in-person meeting with a few people, wherein something, let's say Project X, is discussed. Then at a later time, the subject, with a totally different audience, mentions Project X and expects those people to know exactly what he or she is referring to.

The delusion arises when the person thinks that once the term "Project X" has been sent into the atmosphere as a text or email or verbal utterance to a few select people, it will disseminate into airborne molecules that will travel around and diffuse into the blood brain barrier of every living mammal in the building.

Maybe it's a disease of the larger corporation. So many people have so many meetings that they forget who they've spoken to over the course of a few days. I've been there. I've attended meetings that have blurred my mental facilities to Kardashian proportions. But I've learned you have to make an effort to think of everyone who might have a stake in — in this case, Project X — when it's first mentioned, and make sure they're in the loop.

I can't tell you how many times I've been on an email thread and heard a term used as though it's the most common noun in the universe. My immediate reaction is that I have somehow blanked out a series of informational meetings. But then afterwards, I'll ask four other people on the email thread, and no one else knows what the term is either. But none of us had the nerve to come out and ask what the heck the others were talking about for fear of looking like an idiot.

The next time you're in a meeting and information is discussed that other people should have knowledge of, don't take the easy way out and assume it will get around to them. Brainstorm at the end of meeting who should have the info, and then make an effort to provide it in email or in person.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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