We had a workshop at our toastmasters club – Paul Revere Toastmasters.
The topic was how means of communication has evolved, and what we can or should do to keep our effectiveness.
We had three insightful panel speeches from Lou, Joe and Mark. I would love to continue this discussion thread, and share questions, concerns and off course ideas and insights.
I am writing my personal takeaways from the speeches. Also, quite a few questions were raised, and I am putting them all here as well based on how I read them.
Lou: Education – Change! – You Go First!!!
- Education system gets so much negative slant. People are quick to bash the education system. But, there are so many changes in the system over a period of time as well.
- The test scores are low; schools are still probably sending a thick booklet of rules and regulation to parents. How many of them read it? How effective is that? Is it the most effective means of communication?
- However, there are changes also. Now, schools have internet based system for students to check homework, look for help …etc. Long time ago, we used to have a phone hot line a couple of days a week to answer questions from students, and the line used to ring quite frequently. Now, that isn’t required probably.
- There are two important pieces that would never lose relevance, no matter how the communication media evolve. Number one, the teachers; they still have a very important role to play. And number two, attitude of the students, if that is right, they have a lot of resources to use and also be willing to change with time.
Joe: Change or Die
- The means of communication have evolved. And we have to adopt them. I couldn’t see myself being effective in my business for example, without adopting new communication channels.
- Understand the advantages and limitations of each communication avenue though. That is extremely important. There are certain situations in my business, where a face-to-face meeting is absolutely a must. There is nothing to replace it.
- The nature of messages change with different communication medium. What you say in an e-mail for example is different from a conversation. If you aren’t careful, you could miss out a lot in your communication. A simple typo in an e-mail could change meaning of the message. Could there be consequences for that?
- Evolution of communication technology also has impacted tracking of the information. Back in the days when everything was over direct mail and paper, tracking and follow up was a lot more difficult. Things have become a lot easier now.
- While adopting new communication media, the most important part that’s missed is emotions. When talking face-to-face you have all the visuals and audio connections working for you. In a phone call, you have voice to express mood, tone, urgency, happiness …etc. You miss out on that in emails and text messages. Use simple things like emoticons maybe that makes it slightly easier.
Mark: Change – Your Enemy or Friend
- Do you like changes? Probably not, who does? But, you either adopt the change proactively, or let the change be forced on you. Changes are reality; there is no way to escape out of it.
- Your attitude makes a big difference when it comes to the changes.
- Changes are there all the time. Do you get milk delivered to your doorsteps anymore? No, it changed. Do you like it? Probably so. How long do you think you will get a newspaper delivered to your home? It probably will go away, sad but probably an impending reality in years to come. Blockbuster went into bankruptcy, while the stock price of Netflix is soaring. What’s happening there? A change – people simply love being able to get movies online. You either embrace the change, or let the change swamp you.
- Another important point while managing the change is your pride. Change means letting go something you had, learn new things. And your pride can get in the way of change.
Some of the questions that were raised during the panel session and the follow on discussions –
- So much is asked of K-12 teachers -conduct testing, cover content, mentor students, mainstream disabled students …etc. How can we avoid burn out of these energetic teachers?
- Is there a way to soften the edges of others so that they are malleable to change?
- What can we do that would help in limiting email overload?
- How do you deal with a failing child when the teacher clearly has too many students and can’t address the problem? How do you help the child to focus?
- Isn’t it that the teachers unions have eroded the individual teacher’s motivation to excel?
- How do you motivate the “diamonds” to be more flexible?
- I believe that the parents are at least as important as teachers. What do you think?
- Have you always enjoyed change, and if not what did you do to change your perspective?
- Emotions like respect and loyalty are all important parts of communication. How can you communicate these if you are texting and emailing primarily to communicate?
- What is one thing you wish would change back to the way it was when you began as an educator?
- How can toastmasters help in adapting to communication changes?
Do you have ideas about handling change? Do you have more questions? I welcome your comments and feedback.