Communication Part 4: Why is it so HARD to stay in communication?


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

My blog post of course, with my pithy / brilliant remarks in RED.

Dunbar’s Number suggests that we can only keep between 150 and 200 social relationships, maximum.

Now we all know (and supposedly care about) FAR MORE people than that. Here’s where Dunbar’s Number and the problem of communication come together:
How do you stay in touch with 500 people, let alone 1000, 1500, or 2000?
Let that sink in…

If you rely on your memory, your communications will be sporadic at best, and likely they will be quite shallow and superficial. Where’s the love? Will they think you really care about them at all? Unlikely.

YOU NEED A GOOD SYSTEM TO REMIND YOU!!!
I say “good” system, because it doesn’t need to be perfect. All you need to be is better than everyone else, and almost EVERYONE is really terrible at it. Sorry folks, even you sales types are really, REALLY bad at it too!

It’s time for the math again (I apologize, but it illustrates the problem and solution properly).

If you have let’s say 500 to keep the numbers manageable, (they get crazy if we go bigger, and WE ALL NEED TO GO BIGGER!) school chums, work associates from over the years, family members, extended-family members, neighbors, and close friends that you’ve made from any of these sources, and of course your mate.

How frequently will you communicate?

  • School Friends – Quarterly (12 Weeks)
  • Extended Family (cousins, aunt / uncle, grandparents) – Quarterly (12 Weeks)
  • Work Associates – Quarterly (12 Weeks)
  • Close friends – Monthly (4 Weeks)
  • Neighbors – Monthly (4 Weeks)
  • Family – Parents, Siblings – (4 Weeks minimum)
  • Infrequent Business Partners – (4 Weeks)
  • Daily communication to your mate. Try to say something nice to her / him everyday.

OH!
I need to emphasize this: Make your communications (other than to your mate) during the WORK WEEK! If you communicate all 7 days, your family will feel ignored, and won’t feel the love from you. At all costs, keep your communications for the work week! Try to save your marriage, and your relationships with your kids.

Okay, that said, back to my normally scheduled post…

Say you’ve got 40 people from the above list that you need to communicate with monthly. (500 – 40 = 460)

Your mate, daily. 460 – 1 = 459
And the rest, (459) Quarterly 459 / 12 weeks = 38.25 communications per week

Now, let’s add back in the rest: daily communication with your mate: 7
Family, close friends and neighbors 40 / mo / 4 = 10 / week

That’s 38.25 communications per week for School chums, extended family, and work associates. 7 per week for your mate, and neighbors, family and close friends 10.

That’s 56 per week (11+ per DAY) !!!

That’s a LOT of communication.
It works out to 2,920 INDIVIDUAL communications per year!

Quite literally, ALMOST NOBODY is doing this!

How long, (without a system in place to remind you) before people start to fall between the cracks?

How can you help anyone if they forget you are there? Remember, I’ve already stated the [completely true!] premise that almost everyone is REALLY BAD at communicating. How can you remind them that you are available to help them, if you are forgetting that THEY exist? Unless you are communicating regularly with those folk, what kind of relationship do you have with them. “I know them, or used to. They know me, or used to.”

That’s NOTHING, and worse than useless: It sets up the premise in your mind that “My network of friends, colleagues, family members and acquaintances is valuable to me”. It’s nothing of the sort. Unless you communicate regularly, they (because of Dunbar’s Number) aren’t even going to think of you, and you won’t think of them until you get into trouble!

I have one friend from Junior High School (called Middle School in a lot of places), that has 1441 friends on Facebook and undoubtedly many more from other places. It’s a collection, worth absolutely nothing, because he will [Facebook] friend a person, and never speak/message/type any personal (“Remember when…?”) communication with them.

I have another friend in the film industry (filmmaker, actor, director, special effects, etc.) that has 1,200 contacts (not a collection, but VALUABLE to him in that he communicates with them REGULARLY. He has a system that reminds him at least quarterly, if not every six-weeks.

Dunbar’s Number is a REAL PROBLEM that the great majority of people struggle with, without even knowing it. The guys at Manager-Tools have a podcast about Building and Maintaining Your Network. Give it a listen, and build a system that works for you. They say that you can use Outlook, and I agree: You CAN use Outlook.

I CHOOSE NOT TO, because I don’t like the interruption in my daily / weekly workflow that Outlook enforces. I may be working on a project or several projects that I can’t take my attention off of during a particular workday or days. I usually have time later in the same week to crank out those correspondences. I much prefer using an Excel spreadsheet (with conditional formatting) to help me keep on track.

Send me your email address and I’ll freely send that spreadsheet (without my contacts, sorry) to you for your use.

Why are your services so expensive?


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Because we are not in a race with our competitors to the ground.

What?

More?

Okay, here it is:

We are NOT trying to go broke.

Our company is, quite frankly, a boutique Small Business I.T. Projects, Office Automation, and Human Behaviors providing company.

We learned several years ago that we cannot compete in some markets, however small they are. We cannot, and WILL NOT compete with Geek Squad (Best Buy’s purchased home PC experts) [another post about them later]. There’s NO WAY we can make anything other than a bare existence trying to compete with their part-time, college student staff. For example: “How many jobs per day do we need to make a living?” (Another post “What’s your capacity?”) Doing that, more than we can reasonably book. (Still another post about filling your schedule with good projects, and leaving no room for GREAT projects)!
So, we don’t compete in that space. We constantly refer people to them for hardware support, that we quite frankly are not interested in. We SPECIALIZE in an area that they know NOTHING about! For you, this can apply to other fields as well. Specialize in an area that is needing focus and is under-served.

For my company, that market is Small Business Information Technology Projects, Office Automation, and Human Behaviors. Strangely, all of these rely REALLY HEAVILY on Human Behaviors. More about that on another post.

Cheers!

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work BETTER!
Small Business IT Projects  |  Office Automation  |  Human Behaviors
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Tip of the Day: Extra Clothing


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Here’s a situation that happened to a friend of mine recently. Let’s call her Jain (spelled like PAIN for the anguish, if not burns suffered). She goes to Starbucks for a coffee. Drinks some on the way to work, then upon arriving at work, decides to warm it up in the “OMG! That’s WAY too powerful!” microwave. She then proceeds to accidentally spill hot coffee all over her clothes (thankfully, she wasn’t hurt). All this happens fifteen minutes before a meeting that SHE MUST ATTEND!

Of course, Jain has to quickly go home and change, and race back to work, risking life and limb (and not to mention an expen$ive speeding ticket)! to get to the meeting.

I propose a backup plan:

Keep an extra set of clothes (yes, underwear too) locked safely in your bottom drawer at work. If you don’t like that, a gym / garment bag in your car will work nicely too (unless it gets TOO hot), if so, bring it in and stow it under your desk. You never know WHAT kind of accident can happen, and it will save face for you to be prepared. If your boss sees this kind of an effort, she may be impressed at your foresight, and allow better opportunities to come your way.

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb, Small Business IT Project Manager, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
Small Business IT Projects  |  Office Automation  | Human Behaviors
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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Why hand-deliver a printed quote to your customers?


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

The Internet is here now!
Why on Earth would I deliver a quote by hand?

For the following reasons.

When you deliver a printed quote you show that:
You care about your customer’s problem.
You care about their time, yet ensure that they have received your quote.
You care about their money, you eat the expense of printing it nicely (tip: buy a nice color laser printer and folders / binding equipment). For the first few times you do it this way, sure you can go to Staples (if I’m not mistaken, Costco offers this service as well).
You care about their data (if it’s that type of problem).
You care about their livelyhood.
You care about them.

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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What is the most important thing you NEVER learned in school?


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

This post is purely for discussion. What is the most important thing NOT being taught in an academic environment? I would really love to hear your comments!

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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email: charles@hm-associates.com
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Bus: (626) 593-6700

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Communication: Part 3


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Sun Tzu, in The Art of War writes: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

Are your subordinates or peers guessing at what you are saying or writing? Is most of the dialogue in your head and you only let people in on the last sentence or paragraph? It’s CRITICAL that your communication be COMPLETELY clear from the top–>down, bottom–>up, and side–>side.

Lost information not only leads to FRUSTRATION, it can lead to major issues in production, service provision, and hard feelings all around!

Over the years, I’ve adopted several technologies for communication (email, instant messaging, text, phone), but for REALLY transparent communication, face to face is always, Always, ALWAYS superior. We are programmed from birth to recognize faces (a big reason that we see faces on Mars, burnt into our toast, in sprinkler patterns on the side of buildings, etcetera).

Facial expressions, (unless the person is severely autistic) mean the world to us, and can communicate volumes beyond what can be gleaned from a text or email, or even a phone call where you can hear the inflections in a person’s voice. When communicating, ALWAYS put it in this order: In-Person (so you can see-hear, it also shows that you REALLY CARE about the person [enough to travel a reasonable distance to see him/her personally], honestly it’s REALLY APPRECIATED!), Phone (so that the person can at least hear your voice, and you can hear what they say as well). Instant Messaging / Text (somehow because it’s instantaneous, it’s more personal). E-Mail (it’s the lowest modern form of communication, yet in the marketing sense, you get the most hits from it. Possibly because everyone makes time for it [usually the wrong amount of time, that’s another post], Go figure).

If you really must send an actual hand-written letter, (on some level, it’s really an honor. I still have several hand-written notes from my grandmother {wonderful stuff!}). On another level there’s no help for you. If you have 500 – 1000 people you need to stay in touch with (and YOU NEED TO!), then that’s roughly between 8 and 14 people that you need to write (at least a short note to) EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! 8 x 7 days / week x 52 = 5500 – 11,000 individual contacts each year. Your hands are going to HURT!

SPEAK UP and SPEAK CLEARLY!
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you cannot be understood, you will make ZERO impact, even though you may have thought and said the most brilliant thing in history.

Years ago, I worked with a fellow in the finance department that would come into the server room (these days a no-no, but then not-so-much), and immediately start mumbling. I would (upon hearing the mumble), state: “Hey! Mumbles Magoo! You’re going to have to raise the volume, it’s NOISY in here!”

It was! The air conditioning (on high!), network switches, router, SonicWALL, Dell servers, IBM iSeries 520 server, 3 workstations, etc., 10+ fans just a’ blowin’ and machine / factory sounds!
NOISE CITY!!!

My big point in this post is: You must communicate often (to your contacts, at the very least, quarterly, to your subordinates and peers at work, you must be the king/queen of frequent communication), and you must be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR in your communication (with EVERY SINGLE MESSAGE)!

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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How Many of Your Ideas Are Good?


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret gave us the “Writing Every Day (or whatever it is that you do) “, “Don’t Break the Chain” discipline.

I think he’s a brilliant comic, but how much of his writing does HE think is great or even good? By Jerry’s own admission, only about 10% of what he writes, does he start working with for his stand-up act.

That is 90% FAILURE folks!

That is an ASTOUNDING number of bad, weak, and not-quite-right ideas. I think this is a valuable lesson for ANYONE (and by that I mean, EVERYONE)!

It CLEARLY shows that you can have out-sized returns on that (good) 10%!

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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email: charles@hm-associates.com
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