In my business communication class, I mentioned that it’s best to send resumes as a PDF to avoid issues with spacing or fonts. This off-handed comment led to a whole discussion on how to do that and how to add a signature to your cover letter — which led to a broader discussion about how too often people assume you know things about technology when you don’t. Examples given were when a new employee who had not previously worked in an office was told just to “jump on Teams” having no idea what that meant or when a student missed assignments because they were unfamiliar with the learning management system.

We increasingly rely on communication infrastructure to conduct our daily business but as technology advances, education hasn’t kept up. When we collaborate with others, we encounter new systems and tools that we’re expected to master with little to no instructions. Organizations purchase new programs that only a few are trained on — or even all the employees at the time — but forget that new hires have that same learning curve. Companies release new software updates leaving the user to figure out features or changes on their own. People are tempted by countless new apps that promise to make them more productive, but only if they invest untold time in experimenting with how they work.

As a communicator, you need to pay attention to both the content and the vehicle that you are using for your message. There are functions like driving, turning on the lights, or making a phone call that are essentially ubiquitous but don’t put the use of technology in that same category and assume that others know how to do what’s obvious to you. Routinely teach others software nuances and minimize the “Who Knew?!” phenomenon in your organization.

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