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Communication (Silence can be Golden)

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe (Douglas Adams) – which readers will know is one of my favourite reads – there was a race called the Belcerebons of Kakrafoon Kappa who had a very unhappy time. Once a serene and quiet civilization, a Galactic Tribunal sentenced them to the powers of telepathy solely because the rest of the galaxy found that peaceful contemplation a contemptuous thing. As a result Ford Prefect compared them to humans because the only way the Belcerebons could stop transmitting their every thought to each and every other Belcerebon was to mask their brain activity by talking endlessly about complete and utter trivia.

Recently I have turned in to a bit of a commuter between my home and London and, as a result, I have spent a few long hours on the train in to the city (and home again).

I have decided that the Belcerebons now inhabit a new home in the universe, that of the standard class coaches of the inter-city train that I am forced to share with them.

Now, of course, I own a mobile phone and, of course, I have the phone switched on but apart from the occasional text it remains unused, and on ‘silent’. Others it seems, even at 7am in the morning, have the need to exchange monumentally unimportant trivia about their personal and working lives through the medium of shouting in to a mobile phone.

What has this to do with project management you may well ask (and probably do ask)? Well I am constantly going on about communication being the key differentiator that makes for good project managers, as opposed to competent project managers.

Good communication comes from the perfect harmony of the right message delivered the right way and at the right time. Much of this timing comes from planning for such communication, and more than that it is the filtering out or removal of unnecessary communication that delivers no value and distracts others.

And good communication comes also from thought and reflection, often through periods of silent contemplation. If everybody on a project attempted to communicate out to every other person at the same time then very little, or perhaps no, communication would really occur.

Now of course there will always be some occasions that urgency dictates the exchange of information at a moment’s notice but for the most part this is not the case, it can wait, in fact it is often far more effective to wait.

I think that, instead of one ‘quiet’ coach on each train for those that wish to have peace on their journeys that there should be one coach allocated solely to those few who lives are far more important than the rest of us and whose ever thought must be conveyed immediately (and loudly). Let them all sit in one place and out-loud each other, they will probably enjoy it.

For the rest of us travelers let there be peace with the acceptance that the occasional important call might take place for very good reasons.

Perhaps I am becoming a grumpy old project manager but hopefully not; I just feel that in project management (and life in general) less is most definitely more especially when it comes to communication. But don’t get me started on the soon to be with us use of mobile phones on a plane…

Happy travelling!

[ribbon_new header=”h2″ style=”dark”]Author Bio:[/ribbon_new]Peter Taylor is the author of two best-selling books on ‘Productive Laziness’ – ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. He has spent the last 3 years focusing on writing and lecturing, he has organised and attended over 200 presentations around the world in over 20 countries. With new books out including ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’, ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’, ‘Leading Successful PMOs’, and ‘The Thirty-Six Stratagems: A Modern Interpretation of a Strategy Classic’ – with a number of other book projects currently underway, Peter is becoming increasingly successful. Described by many as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’ and he also acts as an independent consultant working with some of the major organizations in the world coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers. His goal is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the ongoing battle of the work/life balance that many people face.

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