Three characteristics drive our rapidly evolving communication environment: speed, ubiquity, and mobility. Communication technology is fast, it’s everywhere, and it’s on the move.
For practical purposes, communication is now as fast and far-reaching as it can get. Distance used to be both a hindrance and a buffer, but what could once be said in private can now be relayed to the entire world before the speaker has even finished making their remarks.
“Now” is the functional constant, which means of the three characteristic, speed arguably requires the most adaptive thinking from those striving to develop a communication-based leadership mindset.
Our connectivity travels with us and is available any time and anywhere, but the speed of Send can instantly transform modern communication technology from a powerful resource to an instrument of demise for leaders and their organizations.
Here are two ways to avoid getting caught in the speed trap of modern communication.
First, communicate on purpose. The first principle of CBL is it is impossible to lead without communicating — but just because we can communicate to the entire world instantly doesn’t mean we should. While trying to avoid communicating is folly, failing to communicate deliberately is a sure path to crisis. Before speaking, Tweeting, or posting, be sure you know who you are communicating with, what you are communicating about, and what you hope to achieve – then select the right medium to engage at the right time.
Second, use speed to your advantage rather than as a default setting. When it comes to communication – whether in the form of words or deeds – prioritize timeliness over speed. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time doesn’t require you to do it instantly, it requires you to do it in a way that allows people to make the decisions they need to make with the information you provide. This is true whether leading a team or managing customer relations.
Saying the wrong thing fast is rarely more beneficial than saying the right thing to the right people at the right time.
Remember, despite the advantages speed, ubiquity, and mobility provide, the best communication still happens face-to-face where you also gain the advantage of time-proven elements of rich communication including non-verbal signals and the opportunity to confirm understanding and clarify meaning.