If I learned anything from my time at DeMoss, it was that a lot of problems are solvable by improved communication. Words matter. Sometimes, it's the frequency of words that can make a difference.
It makes a difference in both personal and professional situations.
Working on any project can have fluctuations of stress levels. Deadlines could change. Bugs and glitches happen. Assets needed get backlogged for one reason or another. Hiccups like these add stress to any project. How often you communicate during those times directly impacts the stress level of that situation.
About a month ago I was rear-ended on an off-ramp on I-285, so my car had to spend some time in the shop being repaired. The shop I used (Gerber Collision) was extremely proactive on giving me status updates. They called me at the same time twice a week to give me status updates, even if nothing had changed. I received text alerts and was always in the loop on the timeline of when my car would be ready. Having your car in the shop that long is a stressful situation. However, being as well-informed as I was by Gerber made that situation a lot easier to deal with.
On the flip side, we were recently working with a vendor on implementing something with an app. The project got delayed due to some technical issues, which is totally understandable. During that time, we had no idea what was being worked on or what the status was unless we reached out and asked.
Our vendor likely was working very hard on the issue and doing everything they could to fix it. But we didn't know that, making the situation stressful for us when higher-ups asked about status, only to receive an "I don't know" response. When we were looped in, the stress levels went down, even if the status of the fix hadn't changed.
Even if nothing has changed, just keeping people informed on what's going on makes a world of difference.
A Personal Story
A couple of weeks ago, Megan was scheduled for an induction for our first child. Northside had a backup on inductions and had a shortage of beds - totally understandable and we got it. That hospital delivers more babies in a year than any other hospital in the U.S.. Being overcrowded wasn't out of the realm of possibility and we understood that.
Having your wife be told she'll have her baby on a certain day and then delaying it provides ample potential for a lot of additional stress. For a short time, we didn't know what was going on, what the status was, or if we'd even be able to get in the day of our appointment. Later that day, her doctor proactively called her and gave her a detailed rundown of what was going on in the maternity ward, the status, and what to expect. We got consistent updates from that point until it was time to go in.
Did her doctor telling us all that change our situation or place in line at all? No. Did it reduce our stress level? Absolutely. Being informed on a less-than-ideal situation is considerably better than being in that same situation and being left in the dark.
Proactive communication is something I know an area we can all improve on. It's something I should improve on myself. At work, I know I'm working hard knocking out a deliverable. However, if the coworker depending on me doesn't know that it's in progress, they're in the dark. For all they know, I'm blowing off their request. A simple check-in from time to time saying "hey here's the status on X" goes a long way to keeping stress levels down and perceptions high around any office.
What about you?