Communication is the base of human interaction and because a big part of it occurs while we are working it is very important to study Communication on the organizational context. There are studies showing a clear relationship between organizational communication and employees’ satisfaction, commitment and performance.
Since digital communication is being more and more used on the job, especially for remote teams that never interact face to face, it’s very important to understand how to establish good relations through the screen. How can digital teams build trust and commitment relations with people they never see?
Let’s explore it.
New Technologies changed the way people communicate among each other, we can even say that in the last century we assisted to a Communication Revolution that allowed us to share information more quickly, with more people and with different locations at the same time. The advantages are undeniable but the potential of these equipment depends on the usage humans make of them. It is important to be aware of the differences and barriers so we can adapt our communication style to it, in order to improve the communication procedures instead of spoiling them.
Let’s point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of electronic communications:
- Faster and easier to spread messages inside the organization and to the clients
- A bigger volume of information shared
- Low cost
- Transmission of information to people in distant locations
- Fewer distractors, focus more on the content
- Time manager – no need for availability from everyone at the same time (email; instant message)
- Time saver – fewer meetings; no need to lose time travelling or finding a meeting place
- Writing errors becomes more acceptable. This can be very relevant especially if you are speaking a non-native language
- Equalize the participation of employees with different levels on the organization (since you are not face-to-face you feel more comfortable to share your opinion)
- Global job market, interrelations between people from different cultures and religions
- Do not have non-verbal signs that help to interpret the meaning of messages (except video calls)
- You can’t assure that the receiver will get the message
- Privacy problems
- Can generate misconceptions by quick writing/reading messages
- Can generate waste of time and unnecessary work interruptions
- Can be used in a superfluous way, increasing spam messages
- Because it is more informal, can become less respectful or less ethical
- The wrong use of it can conduce to disciplinary, criminal or bad reputation processes. The messages can be criminal proves
- You can’t control for who your message will be forwarded and if it will be somehow modified
- People tend to lie more virtually than face-to-face
In one hand digital communication opened frontiers making the work dynamics much more global – now we can work with anyone in the world that have access to the internet, which is very powerful and opened the job market to a lot of people that couldn’t have access to it. But in the other hand the fact that we communicate through a screen needs special attention in the sense of the contents that we are sharing and the way we share it, especially when writing an email or instant message, because we don’t have immediate feedback from the receptor, and we can’t be sure of how our message is going to be interpreted.
The fact that the receptor does not see our eyes, ton of voice, movements and facial expression makes it harder to interpret the message, even that some studies defend that it can be an advantage to doesn’t have these distractors, so people focus more on the content, which can be particularly important when dealing with different cultures that interpret signs in different ways. I would say that for really relevant talks the best way to communicate, making use of the advantages of digital communication is the video call – I call it a good “half-way” between the present communication and digital communication, because we can see the person in the other side, interpreted their non-verbal signs, have immediate feedback to make sure they understand us and still we are saving time and money. Also to help us understanding the intention of electronic messages there are the emojis that can express a lot of emotional states, giving “life” to a written message. The right smiley used on a message can be enough to help the receptor interpret the message the way we want to. But keep in mind that sometimes an emoji can have less credibility and not be adequate for some receptor, in this case, try to use words that better express emotions or courtesy, like “It was a big pleasure to have you on our session”, “your opinion was immensely relevant to our decision”.
The fact that it became so easy to communicate increased a lot the volume of communication and data shared, which can be very good but also affects our efficiency at work since we lose focus and time reading emails and messages that sometimes aren’t relevant to our work. Avoid sending or forward messages to your colleagues that are not relevant to their work. Some studies show that we need around 60sec after reading an email to go back to focus on the task we were performing before. If we sum 60sec per person per email, considering that we receive 10 irrelevant emails per day and we are a team of 10 people is already 100min lost for the company, imagine at the end of the week and the year. A good way to avoid this can be to establish periods of the day to read and answer to email.
Another aspect very important to talk about is the establishment of trust and commitment between remote teams that sometimes never see each other. First of all, having video calls is very important to become closer, online weekly meetings to keep the workflow and the introduction of informal/familiar topics on these calls can be the most important detail to win the trust of your colleague. Comment about your hobbies, your family or just details about the place where you are located will make that person feel closer to you and probably understand you better, this will help in your relationship and consequently on your work dynamics since you don’t go too deep on personal details.
Showing enthusiasm on your work and on the achievement of results it’s as important as on face-to-face relations, everyone prefers to work with someone enthusiast about their work, but sometimes it’s hard to pass this message virtually. Again, sending expressive messages, using emojis can be a great help here. Always remind yourself that good energies attract good energies, so bring that good energy to your digital team.
Also, try to answer your emails/messages timely or confirm that you received them it’s very important for your colleagues to feel that this way of communication is effective and that they can count on you. In case you will be off for some time you should tell them.
Wrapping up, digital communication is a great help to work dynamics if we make the best use of it.
13 Ways to Effectively Communicate Digitally
- When writing an email imagine you are the one reading it. Adapt shape and content to the receptor;
- Reflect on the impact of your message; Remember that what is said has a different impact when read;
- Remember that the hurry to write a message can delay the process of reading for the receptor;
- Re-read your message and confirm if the “to”, “cc” and “bcc” receptors are appropriate. You should only write these fields after finishing the message to avoid sending before finishing;
- Attend to what you write on the “subject” of your emails, be short and clear; it can be the difference between your receptor opens it or not;
- Don’t write your emails as a big mass of text. Make it organized and nice looking: short phrases; main ideas in small paragraphs; paragraphs separated with blank lines; numerate ideas;
- Use colours (yellow) to emphasize the most important parts of the email increase the probability of answer;
- Be aware of the importance of non-verbal signs to interpret messages. Make use of emojis to give “life” to your messages or if not appropriate use words and expression more expressive. Do video calls when you want to be sure if the receptor understands your message;
- Comment hobbies or familiar aspects in order for people to feel more emotionally connected – this brings trust and commitment relations;
- Send and answer messages on time, or forewarn you, colleagues, in case you will be off for a period so they know what to expect;
- Stablish periods to read/answer emails to save time and not lose focus;
- Show enthusiasm on your work and professional achievements. Good energies attract good energies!
- Remember that after clicking on “Send” any regrets are useless
Hope this contributes to upgrading your electronic communications in order for you to have more effective digital work relations in our digital world!
The Global Mind