Multiple-way communication runs in the family

by Max Meng | February 18, 2009

Companies today continually face challenges to keep up with new innovations especially with the use of mobile computer technology, a desire to get close to the customer, and an increased use of direct marketing databases. Similar pressures to embrace technology also affect individuals and their close relationships with others. I was reminded of this the other day when talking to my two teenage daughters.

In our home, we don’t gather around the kitchen table. Instead our discussions occur in our family room in front of our large flat screen television, which is usually connected via video internet for an update from our oldest son in Rocky Mountains of Idaho. During this time, our teens are comfortably seated on the couch each with a laptop open on their knees surfing the net or exchanging emails among friends. As you can image, they’re skilled multi-taskers. Their mobile phones are open and ready for text messaging or an occasional phone call. We agreed previously to keep these calls to a minimum so as not to disrupt our discussions. At least four mediums of communication are used during our gatherings, which I call “multiple-way communication.”

Trying to channel our conversation in a productive way, I decided to email each a list of goals for 2009 and requested that each review them. Sometimes I allow my urge to be efficient from the workplace to spill over into my downtime. However, I thought these goals would be valuable for my two adult sons and two teens.

In my email message to them, I described each goal. I first talked about diversity. I encouraged everyone to do different things and to enlarge their perspective on things. “Try to do things you’ve never done before,” I wrote. “Take on new challenges and never do things twice.” The second goal was about leadership. I suggested everyone increase their productivity and try to be more efficient by standardizing and systemizing their approaches to daily routines. I also wrote, “a good leader understands when to lead and when to follow.” Good advice, I thought to myself as I read my email message to the group.

My third goal explained the importance of networking—that is, how enlarging your circle of influence can help make a positive difference among others. At this point, I thought I was making good progress in passing on my street-smarts to my teens in hopes of them catching my enthusiasm. Unfortunately, my daughters sighed and rolled their eyes. I tried to ignore their reactions and read on.

The next goal was about increasing your knowledge of areas of interest. “Stay informed and abreast of new trends and approaches,” I said. “It is important to take on projects that will increase knowledge and understanding of things.” And the final goal was about communication. I recommended that everyone communicate their successes to those they associate with—but not in a boastful manner, rather in an encouraging way to lift and motivate others to be better.

At this point my son, says, “Dad, your being too efficient. If you send me another email like this, I’ll going to block you and they’ll go into my junk file.”

So much for being efficient and embracing emerging technologies. My sons and teenagers reminded me that the principles of communication remain the same regardless of what’s new.