Have you ever wanted to scream like Chris Tucker’s character in “Rush Hour?” Are you assuming your audience doesn’t know what you’re saying? Are you assuming they do understand what you are saying? Are you sure that you are communicating clearly?
We all THINK we are communicating clearly. However, I have observed lately on a project that I am working on that I was not communicating as clearly as I thought I was. I frustrated one of my team members because I asked open-ended questions when he needed me to be more specific. Fortunately, we realized what the stumbling block was and corrected it before it became a real problem. This led me to think about e-discovery project managers who communicate so frequently that we may lose sight of the mechanics of communication.
Communicating effectively is about starting the conversation with the other person outside of your head. As the “sender” you are responsible for presenting information to the “receiver” that is clear, unambiguous and specific. It is the “receiver’s” responsibility to ask questions for clarification if the sender is not clear, specific or vague. We are all either the sender or the receiver of information so we all carry the responsibility towards the success of our communication with one another. This is especially important when you are working as an e-discovery project manager because you will (not might, not maybe) have people on your team who are unfamiliar with the terminology, technology, and/or process you are using for the project. As the project manager, you will want to make certain that you provide opportunities for everyone to learn and understand and truly “receive” the project plan.
Ask yourself before you click send on the next e-mail:
- Are any of my statements or questions open-ended? Vague? If so, can I restate to be more clear and specific?
- Have I used any terminology that my recipient(s) is unfamiliar with? If so, can I take a few minutes to hyperlink to a definition on dictionary.com or Wikipedia? Or perhaps define the word parenthetically?
- If I’m responding to someone else’s e-mail, have I asked any follow up questions for clarity?
- If I’m describing a process or workflow, would a picture or flowchart be better?
- Is the time and date due clearly stated? Or agreed upon?
What else would you recommend that e-discovery project managers do to improve communication with their teams and stakeholders?
In a few weeks, I will be delivering a webinar training on e-discovery project management for paralegals (and anyone else who’s interested). Send me an email for a discount code (firstname.lastname@example.org). Click here to register. I will cover additional best practices for communication, documentation and project success.