Are digital communication challenges leaving you and your network lost in translation? When we talk to each other face-to-face, we rely on a variety of visual and behavioural cues to communicate our feelings and interpret others’ reactions. With so many of our in-person interactions replaced by virtual meetings and digital communication channels, we have to rely on reading body language, postures, emotions and gestures through the screen. Here are 5 tips for successful digital communication!
In the early stages of the pandemic, it seems most workers coped well. It is when we rely purely on text, via email, text messaging or Microsoft Teams conversations that we lose personal touch. Tone is often lost when relying purely on text.
A Forbes and Zoom survey conducted last year found that 58 per cent of professionals agreed that video communications improved senior leadership’s communication with employees, improving trust.
The flip side of digital communication, though, is the frustration that comes with a conversation gone wrong, be it on email, video or text.
With digital communication here to stay, we share practical steps professionals can take to avoid the common traps many of us fall into when communicating online.
1. Listen more, talk less
Humans yearn to belong by being heard and valued for our intellectual contribution. But now we need to sharpen our listening skills and intentionally lean in and display active listening cues such as visible nodding and thoughtful commenting when prompted.
It all starts with closing our mouths and seeking the true meaning being delivered by the messenger. Better listening cultivates psychological safety that is critical for teams to share ideas, market intelligence and erase conflict.
2. Show active participation
In the absence of visual cues such as nodding in affirmation in a physical meeting to show active engagement, we recommend using the reactions and chat function.
Use of emojis gives us the ability to emotionally respond without interrupting the flow of conversation. A smile or thumbs up emoji lets the presenter know they are on the right page without interrupting the flow of conversation. We can also show we are listening by asking questions in the chat function, which the presenter can look at in due course.
On the other hand, if we are presenting or leading the conversation, making a conscious effort to ask questions gives people a chance to chime in and makes the conversation more natural – like being in a room.
Secondly, we should address our questions to someone by saying their name first. This makes it easy for the person to respond while allowing the rest of the team to listen rather than respond.
3. Control or adjust voice
In 2021, voice is what will distinguish virtual persuasion over virtual presenteeism. Voice modulation is when we choose to go louder or softer, faster or slower, to communicate our message more effectively.
Few leaders are brave enough to admit they probably aren’t where they need to be and proactively upskill. This requires a significant audit of tone, linguistic patterns and content conviction.
Investing in our vocal game can reduce uncertainty, help overcome unspoken fears and influence others in a more impactful and time-efficient way.
4. Think before writing
Paying attention to written communication is equally important when communicating digitally. Apply the ‘Platinum Rule’ – treat others how they want to be treated.
Be aware that teams are likely to experience cognitive overload at times also.
- Keep writing brain-friendly
- Make information readable, relatable and real
- Edit content
- Use lists
- Limit calls to action
- Write the “key ask” at the top and bottom of the email for clarity, brevity and likeability
Follow basic etiquette
When not on video, we’re missing emotional cues that come from facial expression, body language and behaviour.
Keeping the video switched on in meetings indicates respect for other people. Being on video shows that we have made an effort and also promotes inclusivity in meetings.
Be mindful of how we present ourselves in virtual meetings and when in doubt, think whether we would do something in a face-to-face meeting, or not. For example, we may eat on a video call if we are in a meeting with close colleagues, but not when we are in a professional meeting with clients or the broader team.
If unsure about the dress code for virtual meetings, think: “Would we wear gym wear or nightwear in a professional setting? If the answer is ‘No’, don’t wear it.
Here at DGL there are employees that work remotely and work flexible hours and there are certainly many benefits for both the company and employees with these arrangements in place. If you would like to know more in regards to working remotely, virtual meetings and implementing best communications practices in your workplace, speak to the Team at DGL Accountants!