non-vocal management resources?
May 13, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I will be having surgery in the near future which will either leave me with a whisper for a voice or not being able to speak. I am a manager/team leader/director and I work with a large number of with people. Anyone know of resources for non-vocal team leading/management philosophies and styles?

I am looking at a life change of course and am trying to wrap my brain around what will be possible, but different and what won't be possible. The surgery is not an option, it has to happen.
I like working with people and would like to continue with it, although it will have to alter. I would like to explore options, thus the question for options.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone has different communication styles, so some folks on your team (50% perhaps) may welcome text-based interaction.

For one-on-one meetings, you could use IM while in the same room to maintain eye contact.

For team meetings, intereact on an overhead using Word.

For presentations, pre-record your remarks (get help) and then make appropriate gestures, and use a microphone to respond to questions.

But get support from management. Get your supervisor or the CEO etc to explain to everyone your challenge and your solution.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2009

I occasionally spend time not talking, and have learned that an expressive body and face can actually communicate quite well. Of course, detailed instructions and requests are not possible, and this can be quite frustrating, but there is a whole basic level of communication that we often ignore which is really more important than the words we say.

Posture, facial expression, movement (fast or slow, smooth or jerky), even appearance and clothing communicate very complex ideas very quickly. These kinds of things can bond us to people, or mark us as outsiders, or mark us as leaders, or imply that we are welcoming and nurturing. Some might call this a "first impression", but it's ongoing. It can be overcome with words, but only with difficulty.

I'd suggest that there's an entire rich world of communication for you to discover if you're interested. Acting, movement, dance, even clowning and mime study (there's more to it than invisible walls), and observation, can start to teach you about it.

I know I'm probably not telling you something completely new, but I do want to emphasize that this isn't some kind of weak idea to try if speaking fails. It's truly powerful.
posted by amtho at 10:06 AM on May 13, 2009

Everyone has different communication styles, so some folks on your team (50% perhaps) may welcome text-based interaction.

I work in a global team that uses email and IM for most of our communication just due to logistical and cost issues. Those two methods work extremely well for almost everything, partially because the corporate culture around here revolves around those methods anyway and many people have smartphones that make it easy to send email and IMs from anywhere.

There are a few gaps, though, where those methods don't really work in our team. One is for very informal conversations. People will chat about things like sports and their personal lives in person but are less likely to do so in an email or IM. You may want to actively encourage that kind of communication if you switch to those methods. Also, many people put email and IM at a lower priority than phone calls or face-to-face discussions. For example, an email might sit in someone's inbox for a week when they would have answered the question right away if a phone call had been made instead. To combat this you might want to mark certain messages as being high priority.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:24 AM on May 13, 2009

Presumably this is being done by an ENT surgeon; talk to him about communication options. There are many ways to get a usable voice, even after a total laryngectomy. They are generally quite different from a typical voice, but still usable.
posted by TedW at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2009

I think this is only tangentially related but you might be interested in reading through Fighting Monsters With Rubber Swords, a blog kept by the father of a totally non-vocal daughter. The author writes often about communication and the strategies and technologies that help his little girl communicate.
posted by Neofelis at 4:40 PM on May 13, 2009

You may wish to call VSDB . They may have some idea as to what resources are available for your upcoming condition, both emotional support as well as professional. Best of luck to you, I will say a prayer. What you are going through is tough.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 6:26 PM on May 13, 2009

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