The High Cost of Poor Communication

The High Cost of Poor Communication EDITORIAL Frances Bryant Bradburn The High Cost of Poor Communication Communication potential abounds: e-mail zips from minds. While this often is a remarkable convenience, it office to office; electronic calendars search a building of also can be a vehicle for horrible misunderstanding. people, coming up with a common date, and scheduling Debate — albeit lengthy and even confrontational — that it for the masses; acquaintances from across the state or in a group situation would lead to resolution, can escalate nation no longer play telephone tag—they "talk" at their quickly to the point of hurt feelings or, worse yet, convenience via the Internet. But are we really commu­ accusations of insubordination. Comments that would nicating? Are we breaking down barriers or constructing seem humorous because of the wink of an eye or the more substantial ones—ones that are being made impen­ smirk of the lips can be misconstrued as mean or even etrable because we no longer are able subconsciously to obscene. Simple requests, so willingly accomplished analyze body language or casually change the subject because of the amiable tone of a human voice, can when tensions mount? appear to be direct, uncompromising orders. In short, e- Electronic mail is a loaded gun at the ready. Thought­ mail, a cost-saving and time-saving computer function, less—or even thoughtful—use of this communication tool can destroy an organization's morale and exact a heavy holds within it the means to destroy an entire organiza­ price in misguided energy. tion. While there is always the chance that this destruc­ We administrators must mirror the efficient—yes, the tion is intentional, more likely it will be unintentional, frugal—uses of e-mail. We must demonstrate e-mail at its even well-meaning and sincere. best: for scheduling, touching base, dropping notes, Conversation has always held this potential, but millennia sharing simple information. But, more importantly, we have fine-tuned the species. While talk creates myriad also must model when not to use it: when we must problem-solve, trouble-shoot, or deal with any situation problems, it solves them, too. We always have believed which may dissemble into anger, misunderstanding, or "If we can just get them (or keep them) talking, we will find a solution." Of course, the printed word has been hurt feelings. around almost as long, but it has served a different Time is money; energy, time. When an organization's purpose. "Putting something in writing" always has collective energy is focused upon problems arising from implied a final product. "Write that down" denotes a administrative laziness and statement to remember; "I'll avoidance tactics resulting from believe it whe n I see it in the improper use of e-mail, any writing" assumes veracity. savings generated by e-mail will be more than offset by the need But the printed word of e-mail to clean up an electronic is not necessarily any of the Electronic mail above. In today's hurried, personnel, budgetary, materials, product-based library environ­ and/o r equipment paper trail is a that never should have existed ment, e-mail is substituting for in the first place. the one-on-one meeting of loaded gun at the ready. 2 The Bottom Line Volume 7, Number 1 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances Emerald Publishing

The High Cost of Poor Communication

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0888-045X
DOI
10.1108/eb025394
Publisher site
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Abstract

EDITORIAL Frances Bryant Bradburn The High Cost of Poor Communication Communication potential abounds: e-mail zips from minds. While this often is a remarkable convenience, it office to office; electronic calendars search a building of also can be a vehicle for horrible misunderstanding. people, coming up with a common date, and scheduling Debate — albeit lengthy and even confrontational — that it for the masses; acquaintances from across the state or in a group situation would lead to resolution, can escalate nation no longer play telephone tag—they "talk" at their quickly to the point of hurt feelings or, worse yet, convenience via the Internet. But are we really commu­ accusations of insubordination. Comments that would nicating? Are we breaking down barriers or constructing seem humorous because of the wink of an eye or the more substantial ones—ones that are being made impen­ smirk of the lips can be misconstrued as mean or even etrable because we no longer are able subconsciously to obscene. Simple requests, so willingly accomplished analyze body language or casually change the subject because of the amiable tone of a human voice, can when tensions mount? appear to be direct, uncompromising orders. In short, e- Electronic mail is a loaded gun at the ready. Thought­ mail, a cost-saving and time-saving computer function, less—or even thoughtful—use of this communication tool can destroy an organization's morale and exact a heavy holds within it the means to destroy an entire organiza­ price in misguided energy. tion. While there is always the chance that this destruc­ We administrators must mirror the efficient—yes, the tion is intentional, more likely it will be unintentional, frugal—uses of e-mail. We must demonstrate e-mail at its even well-meaning and sincere. best: for scheduling, touching base, dropping notes, Conversation has always held this potential, but millennia sharing simple information. But, more importantly, we have fine-tuned the species. While talk creates myriad also must model when not to use it: when we must problem-solve, trouble-shoot, or deal with any situation problems, it solves them, too. We always have believed which may dissemble into anger, misunderstanding, or "If we can just get them (or keep them) talking, we will find a solution." Of course, the printed word has been hurt feelings. around almost as long, but it has served a different Time is money; energy, time. When an organization's purpose. "Putting something in writing" always has collective energy is focused upon problems arising from implied a final product. "Write that down" denotes a administrative laziness and statement to remember; "I'll avoidance tactics resulting from believe it whe n I see it in the improper use of e-mail, any writing" assumes veracity. savings generated by e-mail will be more than offset by the need But the printed word of e-mail to clean up an electronic is not necessarily any of the Electronic mail above. In today's hurried, personnel, budgetary, materials, product-based library environ­ and/o r equipment paper trail is a that never should have existed ment, e-mail is substituting for in the first place. the one-on-one meeting of loaded gun at the ready. 2 The Bottom Line Volume 7, Number 1

Journal

The Bottom Line: Managing Library FinancesEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 1, 1994

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