I think we are all realizing that communicating clearly is a must in this virtual world. In some ways, we might have been over-communicating prior to working remotely; however, we are likely under-communicating now. We don't have the ability for spontaneous conversation in the office like before - in a hallway, at someone's desk or office, or in employee gathering areas like a lunch room. Even if we are working in an office, social distancing and wearing masks somewhat discourages direct communication. We likely find ourselves moving around when we have to versus freely like we used to do.
What we say and how we say it matters even more now. Having a conversation with a mask on poses an additional challenge - words get muffled. It's a virtual world anyway, so most often it is easier to "talk" via email, text, or messenger. Talking via phone is becoming more rare than talking via Zoom, yet sometimes a quick phone call is all we need to obtain information and move forward.
It is critical to think through and determine the best method of communication for each circumstance. Choose the one that has the best potential to produce the outcome you are looking for. You also want to be mindful to use the type of communication that works best with the person you are communicating with. This helps to increase their level of responsiveness and when you engage with someone in their preferred method of communication (which may not always be yours), it is an opportunity to strengthen your mutual connection.
No matter what communication method we choose, it is increasingly important to be clear, specific, and concise. Because communication is limited, our communication must be more effective. Another reason to focus on effective communication is increased workload. In many cases, there is more work to do with potentially with less instruction about how to do it. Employees hired during the pandemic need to be trained and others who aren't new to their companies have taken on additional responsibilities due to downsizing and need to communicate with new people and teams. Effective communication saves time.
So, let's be clear. Think first before you type. Think through what message you want to communicate and how you can communicate it effectively with less words. Be clear. Be specific. Be concise. Try not to send a message that brings up questions for you to have to answer in subsequent emails. Proactively think through related questions and answer them in your initial email. Eliminating back and forth communication also increases your productivity.
Most of the CEOs and executives I have worked with were not talkers. They were thinkers. Most didn't like to engage in email correspondence. They were doers. I'm a talker, yet I trained myself to communicate with less words and be as direct as possible with the action needed. One strategy I used when emailing was to put the entire message in the subject line, eliminating the need for them to "open" the email. That takes time and thinkers and doers don't want to take time or don't have the time to read through long emails.
To communicate effectively, keep in mind that the purpose for your communication is usually to inform or request action. If a response is required, I politely placed that in the subject line with a deadline date or time, if applicable. This type of direct communication can be offensive to some; however, if you aren't professional and respectful when communicating. Use a greeting, please, thank you, and make sure the person you are communicating with knows that you are available to help answer questions and discuss concerns. In fact, I believe that we are all craving warmth in our communications right now to help us feel more connected and these small gestures will make a big difference.
One strategy I used was to abbreviate what I could so the message would still be communicated in a way that was as brief as possible.
Resp required today pls. Tx.
Sig on attached needed by 11/12. Tx.
Good AM. Answer requested by COB. Tx.
Doc attached. Approve Y or N ASAP. Tx.
FYI only. TY.
To be clear, let's be clear! Effective communication increases our productivity and helps us be more effective and efficient at work = more peace at work. Comments? Strategies to share? Place your thoughts in a post or contact me to talk.