When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I immediately read the What to Expect When Expecting book cover to cover. I realistically expected the morning sickness. I realistically expected to be tired. I realistically expected to watch my body completely change as I grew a human. But I also faced a few unrealistic expectations. First, I took to heart the “eating for two” and ate a lot - powdered sugar donuts, Mexican food, pizza, and hamburgers were my favorites and eating totally helped with my morning-afternoon-evening sickness. But I didn’t quite expect to gain 65 pounds. Yes - you read right - 65 pounds. Although I started the pregnancy a little under my recommended weight, I’m pretty sure that a 65 pound gain is never a good idea. Now we get to my second (and way “bigger”) unrealistic expectation. As I prepared to go to the hospital, I packed a really cute coming-home outfit for the baby, a newborn-sized baby blue romper, and for me, a floral t-shirt dress, size medium. After two and a half days of labor, a C-section, an almost 10 pound baby boy, and a few extra days in the hospital, we excitedly got ready to go home. But we quickly discovered that the newborn romper barely covered Austin’s fat thigh (remember he weighed almost 10 pounds), and that floral medium dress -- let’s just say that I looked about 9 months pregnant even after the delivery as I looked about 13 months pregnant when I arrived at the hospital. Luckily, Austin fit into another outfit we received as a gift, but I had to go home in my nightgown. And that cute dress - well, my mom ended up wearing it home after spending a night at the hospital.Thus began my journey into parenthood and many, many more unrealistic expectations!
As I continue to write about communication expectations, today’s blog is about how defining your expectation before the communication experience can help create a more successful communication exchange. There are three main communication purposes: to inform, to discuss, and to connect (to persuade uses all three put together!). Just like a recipe might call for a specific type of oil or a song’s beat might invite a specific type of dance, your communication purpose is best met using specific communication methods.
When you need to inform - email can be used to share all kinds of information. Remember to concisely present an overview in the email itself (we ALWAYS want the audience to read your emails), and then offer attachments or links to more detailed information.
When you need to discuss - a phone call or face-to-face meeting works best. A discussion is an active process involving a back and forth exchange. During a verbal interaction, you can ask questions, seek clarification, add information, and most importantly, read verbal and non-verbal cues to better understand the communication situation.
When you need to connect - use all communication methods. Studies show that stronger personal connections create happier and more productive workplaces. Send that encouraging text message. Express your appreciation in a handwritten note. Offer your insights in an email. Address a concern with a phone call or meet face-to-face.
Although these suggestions really work (just check out the research), remember my advice from last week’s blog - work to use the communication method that best meets the communication expectations of your intended audience. So if your co-worker never reads emails or another never answers phone calls, you may need to share information in a way different from the above suggestions. etc Strategies believes that defining your communication purpose can help you use the best communication method and produce more successful and effective communication experiences.
P. S. - Even though my coming-home-from-the-hospital expectations were totally unrealistic, another more realistic expectation was totally crushed in a good way - that almost 10 pound baby came home from the hospital sleeping through the night! And I did eventually fit into a small (not even a medium) dress but that realistically took about 8 years to happen!!