– April 8, 2020 –
In these days of communication by text, email, phone, Zoom, etc., every day in our work we are challenged to communicate in the best way possible when we cannot meet face to face. Interestingly, the same issue arose in Biblical times.
At the end of 2 John, the apostle writes,
“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12
Here is what the Theology of Work Commentary has to say about this passage:
“John ends the letter by saying that he wants to continue the conversation in person. Perhaps he realizes that whatever else he has to communicate could be misunderstood if presented in the impersonal medium of writing a letter. This gives us a valuable insight about sensitive communications—some things are better said in person, even if distance makes it difficult to see one another face to face.
“In twenty-first-century workplaces we find even more complex challenges to personal communication. Remote communication choices today include video conferencing, telephone, texting, letter, e-mail, social media, and many other variations. But effective communication still requires matching the medium to the nature of the message. E-mail might be the most effective medium for placing an order, for example, but probably not for communicating a performance review. The more complicated or emotionally challenging the message, the more immediate and personal the medium needs to be. Pat Gelsinger, former senior vice president at Intel Corporation and current CEO of VMware, says,
’I have a personal rule. If I go back and forth with somebody in email more than four or five times on the same topic, I stop. No more. We get on the phone, or we get together face to face. I have learned that if you don’t resolve something quickly, by the time you get together one of you is mad at the other person. You think they are incompetent since they could not understand the most straightforward thing that you were describing. But it is because of the medium, and it is important to account for this.’
“The wrong medium for a particular communication can easily lead to misunderstanding, which is failure to transmit the truth. And the wrong medium can also get in the way of showing love. So choosing the right medium for communication is an essential aspect of communicating truth and showing love to people with whom we work.”
We all are dealing with this in our own work today, and this reminder from John written long ago, along with Pat’s more recent update, remains helpful.
How are you tailoring the message to the medium? We would love to hear from you.
The KIROS Board