I believe there are 3 ways to communicate

  1. Asynchronous:  This is when if I am communicating with you, its mostly for your information, or doesn’t need your immediate attention.
  2. Synchronous:  This is where its is somewhat important or very important and I am trying to communicate with you interactively, in real time.  This could be a phone call, instant messaging, etc.
  3. A complete emergency…

Communication is key for any business, and everyone eventually falls into a trap and get in a review that they do not communicate well, or enough.  I really broke down communication types into the above, and people need to figure out the best times to use each one.

Let start with email.  No one should ever email you anything important <period> Anything that is important should be done with some other form of communication.  I do understand there is sometimes a “mass” communication that is often important in an organization that is 1,000 people or more that email is more effective.  But I still believe that if it is that important, there are better ways.  If I send an employee of mine an email, I expect them to do their “important” work first, then get to the email when taking a break.   Email is a huge disruption to work.  Emails with Important tag are more of a waste, but again that is an opinion.

If something is important, I will use some form of synchronous or semi-synchronous communication.   I use the semi- as I now have updated this to include instant messaging (when you have presence) and text-messaging (as this has become a prime form of communication) as well as calling on the phone.   These synchronous are that as if it is important, and I need an immediate response, and I feel its worth interruption then i will used it.  I expect someone to pause and response to synchronous (within limits)  As stated in the initial writing of this, I would prefer developers to turn of email alerts, but keep IM/SMS on.

Now lastly, if it is complete emergency, email and IM wont do, security will come and remove you from the building.   Now this 3rd pillar came during 9/11, where the CEO of the company I was working at was told to leave a building in downtown Manhattan.  Well he argued, and fought until security came and dragged him away.   This was his downfall, as the board started working on his exit soon after.  Your work is not important as your life, it matters.

This was originally written in 2016, and updated December of 2020.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them.