Monday, March 28, 2011

Institutional Communication

 Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Sometimes it is hard to get a post up.  Not because I don’t have anything to say but because I have too many things to say.  I can’t organize them in my mind. I start to think about my week and I’m just flushed with so many experiences; it is hard to make sense of the swirl.  Eventually, my thoughts clear and I am able to focus on one thing.  The problem now is that one thing could get me in trouble and it is easily hard to write about.  I want to make a point. 
I have no desire to cause a ruckus. I don’t want this to get me fired.  I don’t want this to be a bitch and moan session, I’m not holding a grudge nor am I calling anyone out.  That is not me.  I am reflective because I am not comfortable with the situation.
Obviously, I need to be careful about how far I go in talking about colleagues that I have, to at the very least, work with.  On a larger scale we have to be on the same page, work as a team and function for the betterment of the district. 
I thought my way to a brief electronic correspondence I had with a colleague a few weeks ago.  This led to another conversation, casual, with another colleague where we spoke about a number of topics.   I thought about what one puts of themselves online; even a bit beyond that, what one says electronically.  So now I am musing about electronic work communications, and not just email.  On some level we are discussing institutional communication.
The reflective conversation with myself brings me to wonder, why did I send the email?  In the content of the message I was right.  There is no argument there.  I was also brief and to the point. Succinct. Respectful.  No cursing.  I was, and rightfully so, told that I should not have used email to make that point.  I should have spoken to the person involved.  I am not going to contend that.  Unlike a lot of people across a myriad of professions, but especially in education, is the some odd core belief that “I am beyond reproach”. We are not. I accept constructive criticism, I learn from it and I move on.
So, the question is, why did I send the email?  I was busy, but if it was that big a deal, and it was, I could have found the time talk to this person.  I wasn’t too busy to specifically word the email.  So why did I do it?  Is it because I’m a d*@k?  I don’t think so but, who thinks of themselves in that way?  Well, I do know one person who relishes that role  but he/she is not involved here.  I used to work with a guy who had a theory that 85% of the people you meet are A-holes, so maybe I am.  But I digress.
The real answer is like everything in life, shades of grey.  Present words in time are filtered through the communication history (face to face, meetings, committees, emails, texts, use of facilities forms) between two, three, four etc passionate professionals and all of their agreements, questions, rebuttals, frustrations, stresses, affects, responses and more. 
Oh, yeah, my email had to do with communication or lack thereof.
Now I am going to sort of chicken out here because I am not going to into the depths of what I perceive to be the problems with communication in my institution.  I suspect that some of you out there (I say that as if people are actually reading this tripe) have similar communication breakdowns. I am going to fast forward to solutions.
What is the solution?  How do I address my thoughts on these issues?  I could be passive aggressive and rail against institutions, this institution and the system that has created this climate; I could rail against who I perceive to be the perpetuators.  And it is perception because they probably perceive things differently, and that is ok.  Or I could be positive aggressive.  I could bring up my concerns in a meeting or with individuals, engage in discussions about how we communicate. We all know which option is going to bring about positive change? 
When it gets down to it the solution lies with me.  I can only be responsible for me.  At worst I need to do a better job of communicating in a manner I would like to see become the new culture and hope it takes hold.  I am the solution.  Thanks for reading.


  1. My curiosity is peeked! I look forward to institution-wide change in our communication practices.

    I've had people (many of them as a matter of fact) tell me that my emails are cold.

    ?? What does that even mean?!? They're emails... short little questions or answers that shouldn't take up any more time than they need to.

    Alas, I don't want to be viewed as cold, so I add a little... Have a great day!! at the end so everyone feels warm and fuzzy. It gives me the chills.