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Caught in a game of e-mail ping-pong again? One way to avoid such inefficiency is by giving thought to your “communication protocol.” Time-management expert Laura Stack says offices can benefit when teams discuss when it’s appropriate to use different communication tools.

“Nobody knows when to send an e-mail or when to pick up the phone,” Stack says, “so we have a big hodgepodge of communication. A protocol encourages people to use the tool that fits, not just what their preference is.”

Start by asking your boss or team: “Are we communicating as efficiently as we could?” Go through the list below and agree upon what the office protocol should be.

For each, consider two factors:
1. Should it allow for one-way or two-way conversation? Example: Brainstorming requires interaction; project updates don’t.
2. Is it a personal or impersonal communication? Example: If voice tone is important to understanding your message, avoid impersonal e-mail.

Read more from Laura Stack at www.TheProductivityPro.com.

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