One of the questions Darren Draper asks in a series of blog posts about transparency is "Can one be too transparent?" It's a good question.
But I've been thinking lately about a related but different question: Is there a point when sharing too much information (TMI) can be counter productive to getting one's message across? Are these signs I might be over-communicating?
- I was having a little talk with another district-level director not long ago and she asked if a set of guidelines from my department had been shared with the staff. I showed her that I had sent the information to everyone in one of our bi-monthly "TechTips" newsletters a few months earlier. "Oh," she replied, "Nobody reads those!"
- Follow-up discussions with teachers about TechTips usually reveal that while everyone says they save them for later reading, few people actually read them.
- I titled one of my power-user Gmail Tips "Learn to use filters and never see my name in your inbox again." Nobody laughed when they read it. And everyone seem to pay rapt attention during that part of the workshop.
- When I introduce myself to a staff member for the first time, the standard response is, "Oh, you're the guy who sends all those e-mails."
Do I send stuff to my staff so often that it gets routinely ignored? How do you determine the right balance of too much and too little information? On which side should one err?
Perhaps there are signs in one's outside-of-school life of TMI as well...
- After a peak of several hundred Twitter followers, you are down just a handful.
- The royalty check for your last book was smaller than your state tax refund.
- Some articles in The Onion seem more mean than humorous.
- You glance at your wife's e-mail inbox and find none of your e-mails to her have been opened.
I know I whack "over-communicators" regularly from my RSS feeds (those suffering from blogorrhea), my Twitter account and from Facebook. I regularly suspend getting messages from hyperactive mailing lists like LM_Net.
- If you had to pay a couple bucks for each e-mail e-mailed, every Twitter tweeted, or every blog post posted, would you still send it?
- Are you the sole source of this information or are you just passing it along?
- Is the information actually important or just "nice to know?"
- Is the message of interest to a majority of those receiving it?
- Are you communicating through channels that are "required" or "voluntary?" (We have one school e-mail list that is not optional for district employees to receive; another that is.)
- Is the message as succinct, clear and non-technical as possible with the reason for the message clearly communicated?
Send or not to send - what are your criteria?
Image source: http://jimmarous.blogspot.com/2010/06/onboarding-communication-how-much-is.html