Communication Tennis: How Good Are You?

The Balls in Their Court

How many times have you provided an update on something and you say the ball is in their (someone else’s) court”? Do you know if/when it is coming back?  Do you feel like you spend most of your day managing individually disjointed conversations?  If so, you might be caught playing in a very large game (or games) of “Communication Tennis”. 

Why do we play?

We don’t want to forget

Most of us are very busy and have many thoughts in our heads throughout the day.  We will typically initiate communication activities due to urgency or because we may not want to forget to reach out to someone.  We will then strive for that immediate release and transfer responsibility to the other party.  We are constantly sending information to the other side of the net. 

What types of courts are there?

There are a number of different courts that you can play on: Singles, doubles or multi-player. The number of people on a court can either increase or decrease complexity depending on the methods and tools used.  When you’re on multiple courts, are there opportunities to combine those into cohesive doubles or multi-player courts? 

How many courts can you play on at a time?

Each court consists of a communication string that involves a related subject.  Imagine talking to 10 different people at the same time.  Each time you move from one conversation to the next, you need to start over and re-engage to properly participate in the growth towards a resolution.  How many courts do you play on at a single time, and how long does it take for you to be fully engaged when you move amongst them?  Are you able to hit your best shot by placing the ball in a location where it’s easy to return?  Are you better off playing on one court at a time? 

What if someone doesn’t hit back or doesn’t want to play with you? 

The way you gain points in tennis is by hitting the ball over the net and having it land within the confines of the court and the other person is unable to hit the ball back to you.  The more times you do that, you win.  In communication tennis, the opposite is true.   If there is not resolution and someone fails to return the ball, you both lose.  In the context of understanding that they also may be playing on a number of other courts, they either may choose to not play on your court and focus on others, or forget that your court even exists.  What are some methods you can do to ensure your court is important and you are hitting balls they can hit back? 

Can you change the way you think about communication? 

If you are feeling overwhelmed because you have too much going on and feel like you are juggling multiple courts at the same time, there may be an opportunity to change the way you look at communication.  How do you reduce the number of courts you are playing on?  How can you ensure people will play with you?  Can you do this alone, or does it make sense to involve others in your organization?  

At Imagine IT we are here to help.  As the Director of Digital Transformation, my goal is to help others solve real-life issues to make them more efficient and effective.  I am doing that both internally here and externally with our great partners.  There are a number of different tools and methodologies where we can help make your life easier and achieve a return on your investment in technology.  Contact me if you’d like to begin your Digital Transformation Journey. 

  • Jeremy Schroeder