In the Information Age, the key to effective
communication is knowing your audience. When
communicating with your colleagues, you need to
consider exactly who you are dealing with to effectively
get your message across. In my experiences in the
corporate fold, I've found that people fall into one of
five personality types.
The NON-READER. If you hand a Non-Reader a ten-page proposal on introducing a system, he or
she will put the proposal in the To Be Read pile on
the desk, and say, "So tell me about this idea of
yours..." If you reply that's all laid out in the proposal, then
he presses on, "No, just give me a rough idea." The
ensuing conversation requires you to review every
point. Non-Readers immediately close any e-mails if
they are more than one sentence long. If he should
run into the sender later in the day, he'll say, "Oh, I
noticed you sent me something, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet." If he doesn't run into
the sender that day, that information falls into the
information void. The sender believes an idea has
been communicated; the Non-Reader forgets the
e-mail exists. Non-Readers are oral-tradition-only
employees. If you haven't talked about it, it isn't real.
The E-MAILER. E-mailers communicate ONLY via e-mail. If you pass them in the hallway, they
will say hello, and then return to their desks to e-mail
you a question. They do not participate in meetings,
but generate five-page e-mails to comment on the topic
at hand. E-mailers represent the flip side of the
Non-Reader. Specific verbal instructions that carefully
detail a clearly laid out plan are meaningless.
However, if you back up your comments with a two-word
e-mail, the E-mailer follows-up and follows through.
The EXPLAINER. Explainers like to tell you about their projects in significantly more detail
than you ever needed to know. If you ask, "Is the
executable ready?" an Explainer will not tell you "yes"
or "no," but will proceed to detail just how the
compiler works, why the new one works so well, how it
surpasses all other compilers, then segue into a
small aside on the compiler at his last job "back in the
dark ages!" Explainers also tend to stand in
doorways, block exits, and send rambling e-mails that
detail their activities but seldom any discernible
point. They avoid answering yes or no questions
unless asked repeatedly. Explainers tend to have high
levels of job satisfaction, as they are so fascinated with
their work they can't imagine anyone else being less
enraptured. When communicating with Explainers, the
key is to repeat questions using the same words until
a clear answer is obtained.
The RUNNER. The hallmark of a Runner is that he or she is never, ever found in his or her office.
The Runner has a cell phone, a pager, Palm Pilot, and
a laptop. Most often, Runners are seen dashing
down hallways at a breakneck pace. Runners are
always having a bad days, and tend toward
self-conscious swearing. ("I don't know what the $%^&* they
were thinking.") Runners never open e-mails, but
unlike the Non-Readers, are also too busy to talk.
Runners speak in clipped sentences, then dodge down the
hall when they spy someone else, to sputter the
same questions, then rush off again.
The WORRIER. Worriers are often found in management. These people consider all possible
catastrophes stemming from any possible move. When dealing with an actual crisis, Worriers tend to be
efficient and cheerful, thrilled to have had one of
their worries pan out. But during day-to-day
operations, and particularly during meetings, Worriers bring
up and focus on all the things that could "come back
to bite us." They tend to adopt a conspiratorial,
us-against-them stance. "Well you know how it is
in Sales." Worriers prefer to worry in person,
which makes viable communication more likely via e-mail.
So there they are: the five personality types.
Good luck getting your message across.