last-word

julie-barker-drawingHow often do you experience this type of situation: an email lands in your inbox and is addressed to only a few people. Let’s say the topic is a fundraising event and the people receiving the email are members of the committee responsible for the event. It’s a group project and the email provides event information to the committee members. One recipient “replies all” with an opinion about whether the event will be successful. Another responder agrees and offers, in their opinion, a superior event option. Yet another responder disagrees with both suggestions and offers yet another option. Then, more people, let’s say the executive committee of the group, are added to the email stream and you start to see CAPITALS used in key phrases and exclamation points at the end of sentences. Then, just when you think someone with poise will “cease and desist” the madness of this ineffective and damaging email stream, someone sends a five-paragraph response with all the reasons the initial event was suggested in the beginning.

Experts suggest that between 50-80% of all human communication is non-verbal. Email is a valuable source of communication, both personally and professionally, but when we experience scenarios like the above, we have to question our reliance on email communication.  Why is it that when the conversation starts down a controversial path, we don’t just pick up the phone and call the other individual, or simply go see them, and not let the email communication cause misunderstandings and potentially damage relationships?

The sufficiency of email communication may be best measured with two questions:

Is it controversial?

Is it critical?

If the answer to either question is yes, then the circumstances may be better served by a different, more personal method of communication, or may require a follow-up phone call after the email is sent, particularly as an added step to the “is it critical” question.

Choosing the best communication tool for most business situations typically requires personal judgment, and that’s where the “Drury advantage” comes into play. Where better to develop the type of communication skills that are essential in business than in classrooms that average fewer than twenty students, provided in an environment emphasizing global influences, and with a focus on personal communication skill development? There is truly an advantage for a liberal arts education.

Last year, the Association of American Colleges and Universities released the results of a national survey of employers that describes what college graduates need to succeed in a global economy. Of the respondents, 93% said “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than the employee’s undergraduate major.” Additionally, the survey found that:

Nine in 10 employers want those they hire to demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.

Three-fourths of employers want more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.

Nearly three-fourths would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy.

In a blog for The Huffington Post, Edward J. Rey, President of Oregon State University, aligns these desired results directly with a liberal arts education. It’s a great read—I suggest you check it out.

Email and text communication are very effective communication tools in many situations, but it’s critical to know when to use a more personalized method of communication. In our technologically-filled age, we cannot forget the value and effectiveness of  more personal and direct communication. All Drury graduates receive a well-rounded liberal arts education that helps develop the good judgment it takes to become successful in our chosen endeavors. This is part of the “Drury advantage,” and it’s exactly what most employers are looking for in job applicants who are new to the workforce.

JULIE BARKER ’82, MBA ’95 IS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND MORTGAGE DIVISION MANAGER AT METROPOLITAN NATIONAL BANK. 

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