Our modern communication within a group is dominated by tools like MS Teams and Slack.  These messaging tools are the outcome of several years of working on the problem of quick and thorough communication.  We have looked at how e-mail is intended for lengthy or cumbersome conversations.  Now we look at tools that are designed for a quick response and often a short one.  These provide for much more transactional communication (Q&A) rather than full dialogues.  While the tools can be a nuisance and disrupt our day, there are positives in using them.

A Paper Trail

We have looked at the problem of forgetting details in a complicated conversation.  This issue is still a common one faced in simple conversations as well.  I think it comes from how little we need to engage mentally. We are not held to a standard of fully engaging our attention in these conversations.  Therefore, it is easy to forget precisely what occurred.

Think about the last time you answered a question about an upcoming time for a regularly scheduled meeting.  You probably were on “auto-pilot” and responded without thinking.  You have done that many times in the past.  Thus, it becomes hard to differentiate amongst what answer was given in each situation.  Sometimes the question we answered was not precisely the one asked.  These tools provide a way for us to slow down a small amount and pay more attention while also having a way to refer back to what we said.

Learn By Osmosis

The best to learn from your co-workers is often by merely listening to their daily conversations.  I can remember numerous times that I was exposed to new ideas by only sitting next to a discussion.  This result is one of the values of the “bullpen” seating arrangement in offices.  It is most valuable to people early in their careers.  However, I find it never ceases to be of value.  These messaging tools provide that sort of environment.  Even better, they often include a way to search for past topics and details.

Episode Challenge: When did you last review the market of these tools? Do you have a group that provides you good support and a forum for discussion?

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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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