Effective communication, how I do it

Below are few things I've learnt and I follow to be less irritating to the next person. It may be wrong, feel free to suggest better ways and give feedback on any or all points. You can even say I'm a messed up guy :D

Starting conversation and what to expect

Never say just `hi`, greeting next person is good but it doesn't give any clarity on what do you want or what is the level of urgency of the topic you want to discuss. It is not good to wait for next person to be available before sharing the question or news. Add some context around the topic you want to discuss to allow next person to better judge the priority and revert back with proper message (either make time for you or say that person will get back after current task or schedule time)

Always expect next person to be busy on something, it is only the priority of the task which needs to be checked. If you ask me if I'm free or available: no, I'm never free, I'm always busy on something but yes I may be doing something which is not important and/or urgent than the topic you want to discuss and after knowing the topic I might say I'll answer you first or do your task first.

Don't expect someone to keep looking at slack window or mail client and respond back immediately, let them take their time to respond back. If it is really urgent/critical - feel free to call on zoom/phone. Next person will understand if the topic was really critical and will get irritated if was not and could have waited for few hours or next working day/time. Put yourself in next person's shoes and try to feel how they will feel, doing so will make our judgement better on deciding whether to call or not.

Communication channels

Physically grouping OR Calls are best way to communicate, no doubt here. But they are the most blocking ones too. In developer terms they are synchronous requests. E-Mails are the most asynchronous requests. One should use their common sense to decide which method is best suitable for the topic. I try:

  • Try to communicate in E-Mail or JIRA, also makes history of communication available if I expect the other person to respond back or has an action item for them in my request
  • If I fail twice in JIRA, go to slack OR slack directly if it is informal discussion
  • If I fail twice again, go on call

Don't wait for a topic to be dragged into like 50 comments in JIRA around 20 mails in a thread, get on call as soon as you find out current communication method is not working. Now, it is also important to get a step back after the call and see what was missing in the email, jira ticket which might have avoided the call. It is not always your fault but to check and see what went wrong and do any improvements in future will help reduce the number of calls.

Consider it as an escalation to go to next level: EMail / JIRA doing good, chat - orange flag, call - red flag. Now keep improving and try to get in green for most of the cases.

Setting expectations

I don't work whole day, I'm just available most of the time. I spend time with my kids, family, help taking care of my daughter when my wife needs to go out. But I share this clearly to my PM and TA and I stay available in chat through phone. Why? Blocking someone because you have different priorities is not good right?

Try to set the expectation right

  • "My working hours are 11 to 9 or 8 to 5."
  • "I will go out in evening daily with my kid and won't be available for couple of hours"
  • "I can't work later in night"
  • "I can't work on weekends"

Say it clearly and loud, preferences are always respected by next person if stated clearly. This has worked for me most of the time. BUT we should also respect next person's preferences, know them and respect them.