When You are OVER the Office OVERcommunication
We’ve all experienced overcommunication.
A coworker hits REPLY ALL to every email.
A group text goes out to twenty people.
A zoom meeting lasts ninety minutes when the info could have been given in fifteen.
A manager pings you throughout the day on Google Chat. Each time, you stop what you are doing to reply to the notification quickly. But he pings back every single follow up thought that comes to mind in separate chat messages. Again, overcommunication.
You try to be patient. You give friendly hints. But you are OVER it. You are over the office overcommunication.
It is disruptive. It costs businesses time and money. And it is a part of everyone’s work life.
What is behind office overcommunication and what are some best practices for how an office can communicate about communicating?
Emotional Intelligence and Communication for Managers
Psychologist Howard Gardner defines emotional intelligence as “the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them, and how to work cooperatively with them.” Managers with high levels of emotional intelligence are more effective. They are intuitive about how employees are feeling and respond accordingly. And the WAY that they communicate with employees plays a huge role in this.
Managers should be highly aware of HOW they are communicating and HOW employees are responding to the communications. Are employees getting messages with one communication (like a weekly staff newsletter) or does it take a couple of different means of communication to reach everyone (email mid-week and a staff newsletter on Fridays for example)?
Are managers communicating just on a mass level or are they also giving individual attention to employees? Employees who crave attention sometimes seek it out through overcommunications.
Communication Self-Awareness for Employees
There are reasons individual employees may feel the need to overcommunicate. They may not think people are hearing their message or may think that excessive communication will advance their career (by getting attention from a manager). But it is crucial for an individual to self-regulate and have their own emotional intelligence.
Employees– ask yourself if you need to send that communication right now. Would an email be better than a chat? Does the entire staff need to know this information? Is there another way to house ideas—perhaps grouping them–to save for a meeting? Ask yourself what kind of response (if any) you are getting with your communications.
Use this idea when your think about communication: “Great communicators say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said and to whom it needs to be said – nothing more, nothing less” (Tim Sackett, TLNT).
Best Practices for Manager to Employee Communications
- Managers should consider surveying employees on how they feel about current communications and what changes employees suggest (if any).
- Managers should group ideas as much as possible: Ash Rust, Entrepreneur contributor says, “Email is a time suck that we can’t stop thinking about every two minutes. In fact, we do it even more frequently — the average employee checks his email 36 times per hour.”
- If overcommunication is a real problem, managers should first talk to an employee individually, but if needed, consider implementing a policy. “You don’t have to ban email but do ask your employees to think before sending. An email sent to the entire company can squander hundreds (or thousands) of employees’ time with one click Ash Rust, Entrepreneur.
- Managers should wait for the right timing. Sometimes having a definite weekly time when a newsletter is sent is a good idea because it is expected.
- Managers should be clear with communications the first time. What do they want the person reading the message to do with the information? Is there a call to action? Did they use bold, bullets, make it readable?
- Managers should keep communications positive (include something fun or compliment work).
- As much as possible, managers should communicate in person for the clearest message—with no misinterpretations.
Keep in mind, overcommunication may cause conflict. Conflict is inevitable in any group environment. Whether it occurs between associates or involves managers, it costs businesses in the forms of time, money, low morale, and turnover.
Although impossible to avoid completely, a few simple strategies can help everyone get ahead of work conflict.
Artemis Consultants cares about communication- how it is received and how it can be helpful to our clients and candidates. Let us know your office communication best practices below.