Monday, April 13, 2009

Technology Doesn't Fix Communication Problems

In spite of what most "techies" will tell you and try to sell you, technology doesn't fix communication problems, it only makes communication easier. Bad communication whether it's face to face or via some form of technology is and always will be "bad communication".

Whether it's email, IM, Texting, telephone, teleconference, video teleconference, or any of the social networking tools, it's not the system you use, it's the way you communicate that makes the difference.

As a good friend of mine, JaWar (@JaWar) is constantly emphasizing to me and all of his friends, its all about engagement. And engagement requires trust - trust that the people you are talking to will honor your words and not humiliate you or embarrass you.

Engagement is defined as the act of being engaged
or emotionally involved / committed.

Engagement is an "action" verb - not a passive one. It requires your interaction with those you which to communicate with - not sitting back and just monitoring.

If you lecture to me or talk at me, and don't acknowledge or respond to my replies - you are not engaging - and therefor not really communicating. It doesn't matter if this is on Twitter, through IMs, emails, or even face to face, it's all the same.

Or if you just sit back and read, absorbing everything going on, but not adding to the conversation - again, you are not engaging. And still, you are not really communicating.

If you want to build relationships, I don't care where you want to build them, engage with those who engage with you. Join in the fray - get out of your comfort zone - take a chance and reach out to people that are out there. Give yourself to the process of communication - two way. Sure you can use all the tools available to you, but don't expect the tools to do the work - that's up to you.

Join in the fray - get out of your comfort zone - take a chance and reach out to people that are out there.


  1. Great info. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. You are so welcome. I'm glad you liked this article. I find it funny that so many look to find ways of treating symptoms, rather than going to the root of the problem. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Love the idea of trust and engagement as the basis for good communication.
    Thanks for putting it in such simple, understandable terms.

  4. Lizetter, You are welcome. Communication is that simple - but we tend to make it hard, and fear it.


  5. I like the way you pointed out that to be engaged involves actions on both sides. One thing I have seen a lot where communication via email could be improved involves details. All too often an email chain includes back and forth one sentence emails over a period of minutes which could have easily been summed up in 1 or 2 emails (or a quick phone call) if someone had just made the effort to address everything at once. In many cases, people have begun to use technology as an excuse rather than a tool to increase efficiency. So many times I have heard from colleagues, "I sent an email but haven't received a response" when asking for status on a particular item which involves another department or vendor. The tools available should be used as needed to clear up confusion, provide information and answer any questions or concerns in the most efficient and effective means possible.