Since March 2020, we have seen disruption on many levels. Digital tools, that got little traction for years, are now business requirements – not only for productivity and connection with our clients, but also for business development and celebration.
Almost 80% of communication in organisations is done virtually and yet we still don’t have a rule book! How many times have you sent a message on WhatsApp or email only to be ghosted and left feeling insecure?
It isn’t surprising that we are left feeling anxious, bewildered, and confused when we communicate virtually, since we don’t have visual cues, and figures indicate that 50% of digital communication is misinterpreted.
There is no rule book – school taught us to read and write, but not how to communicate digitally. So, when and how do we use the correct communication channels to create connection and trust no matter the distance?
When you read an email, that is the new form of active listening and we must read it carefully, and with intention. Writing clearly is the new form of empathy in our virtual world.
If we are to continue adapting and conforming to these new digital methods, I believe that the question we must ask ourselves now is no longer simply, ‘how will we adapt to our new normal?’, but more importantly, ‘how will we create a better normal?’.
What rules will you choose to create around communicating digitally at work and in your personal life?
WORKPLACE HINTS AND TIPS
Here, I’d like to share some tips – although they must be considered in the right context:
• Assume that the sender has the best intentions when you read digital communications. Remember: you are missing body language and tone cues from others, which can cause us to misinterpret directness or speed with rudeness
• Do we have a clear understanding of which channels to use and when?
• Do we use clear language and word choice to foster understanding?
• Establish expectations for the appropriate timing involved in each tool, including response time, and whether certain tools are off-limits during non-working hours
• Email response time is usually less than 24 hours depending on priority
• There is a 60 second rule. If you can answer an email within 60 seconds, then just do it quickly
ONLINE VIDEO MEETINGS >>
Some tips about how to connect with introverts and extraverts…
HOW TO CONNECT WITH INTROVERTS
• Schedule downtime between long meetings
• Practice waiting five seconds before jumping in to speak
• Send questions a few days before a meeting so they have time to process and prepare
• Encourage them to message or email you with their thoughts after a meeting
• Create a time limit so that louder voices don’t monopolise the conversation
• Stop interrupting – use the raise hand tool or send a message
HOW TO CONNECT WITH EXTRAVERTS
• Set up regular face-to-face or video meetings so they can talk things through with you
• Use breakout rooms so they get a chance to talk about their ideas
• Maintain water cooler spaces in office or online so that they recharge with social interaction between blocks of work
I could write a whole book about this subject, or rather talk and coach about it – which is my preferred style of communication!
When I coach teams in the workplace around this topic, they set their intentions around creating a ‘better normal’ as we adapt to this digital revolution.
Virtual communication is about building trust and connection using careful communications, confident collaboration and valuing visibly.
Feeling valued means turning up to personal and professional meetings on time, responding appropriately even if it’s to say you’ve read a message and you’ll respond shortly.
It’s about stepping into the recipient’s world. How do they feel and what are their needs?
When we can’t see people in person, reading messages with intention is the new form of active listening and writing clearly is the new form of empathy.
What intentions are you going to set around your digital communication? How will you choose to ‘accelerate’ a better normal?