Too Much and Too Little Communication: An Observation and Recommendation

The way we work doesn’t allow us to do good work. You know, the work we are capable of doing, work of a higher quality, work that makes a difference for us and our clients, work that is purposeful, proactive, and meaningful. It’s not that we don’t want to do good work. It’s just the way we actually work.

Right now, anyone from anywhere in your company is allowed to interrupt you. They can walk right through your proverbial “open door.” They can call you to ask you a question, even if it isn’t urgent, and even if you are working on something of greater value that needs to be accomplished now. These interruptions take you away from your work, and because you want to be helpful (a good team player), you take the call, struggling to pick up where you left off.

When you open your inbox, other people’s priorities are stacked up in numbers that would overwhelm anyone. Inside those emails are requests for information, the information you need to be aware of, things that you don’t really need to know at all, and a few communications from clients and prospects sprinkled in for good measure. Each email requires that you decide what it means and what you need to do with or about it.

Add social media and texts to these distractions, and you have what amounts to far too much communication. So much in fact, that most of it is ignored, lost, or simply forgotten about.

Because we are “too busy” and because “meetings” have gone out of style, the teams that need actual face time to communicate and coordinate their efforts don’t spend enough time in the same place, with no distractions, solving problems and producing the results they need to produce. With a coordinated plan for communicating with purpose and without distractions, many of the communications that show up in lesser forms and at inopportune times would be unnecessary—or at least greatly diminished.

The first thing you can do is start to reduce your contribution to the problem, uncoordinated communications that show up as interruptions. Once you’ve done that, you schedule regular, short, well-designed meetings that allow for real communication and coordination, and start to wind down some of the cacophonies of chaos that is too much communication of too little value.

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