Digital Attitude: Becoming Eminent

The Journey To Authentic Self

Don’t Ignore These 5 Virtual Communication Rules

miscommunicationsMiscommunications is still one of the main problems in the workplace.  Heck, it might be one of the main problems in life.  Add the inability to see a person’s reactions and expressions first hand, and you have an even larger potential for misunderstanding of what the other person is trying to tell you.  Email, texting, phone calls and teleconferences all miss the visual cues that we are used to and that help us understand what someone is ‘really’ saying to us.

The New Media Consortium, in a white paper titled “Social Networking, The “Third Place,” and The Evolution of Communications,” (2007) said that the lack of the “visual component” in virtual communications has created both challenges and opportunities when it comes to the new environments of communications. I agree with that. Though we may lose body cues when we are not face to face with someone (seeing someone’s ‘body’ helps us understand whether the other person is listening, or mulling over our question, or maybe getting ready to answer), we now have the opportunity to hone our online communication skills, to optimize understanding, and maybe even incorporate modes of contact that were missing from more traditional interaction.  Instead of looking at what we lost, let’s look at what we have gained and ways to make it work best to minimize misunderstanding.

pascalHere are five of my proven communications rules:

1. Be Brief: Use as few words as possible and try to utilize the technology medium (email, twitter, instant message), that will convey your message without extra fluff.

“Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” (translation: “I have made this [letter] longer than usual, only because I have not the time to make it shorter.”)Blaise Pascal

2.  Choose Your Medium Wisely“Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”Martin Lomasney

3. Pick Up The Phone: If a text or instant message dialog goes for more than 5 minutes, it is best to pick up the phone and talk to the person.

4. Practice Good Emailing:

  • Less is more. (See Rule #1 & #5)
  • Try to make it fit on 1 screen.
  • Be clear about your point and organize using bullets and headings.
  • Write using good grammar.
  • Avoid attachments.
  • AVOID ALL CAPs, smileys, text-messaging language and colored type.
  • Proofread each sentence.
  • Don’t send something you would not want the world to see.

5. Choose The 1 Question You Want Answered: If you send a note with several questions in it, typically, only one question will get answered. Often, it is the last one. Occasionally, it is the first one. But usually, it is the most interesting one.  Why not decide instead of leaving it up to fate?

Do you think that virtual communications have added to, decreased, or not effected the level of miscommunications in your life?  Do you have any virtual communication rules that are working for you?

animationfinalKeep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian





6 comments on “Don’t Ignore These 5 Virtual Communication Rules

  1. Techman
    September 16, 2013

    Very useful blog post. Indeed communication is very important. Regarding virtual communication’s impact, I think it is a mix. It benefitted in many instances, eg Facebook interaction with photos, videos and text makes it easy for even someone who’s not great in communicating his/her message across; some info sharing is better via written media, eg address, email, number sharing and such info remains as history record.

    While, as you mentioned, it’s misuse could be disadvantageous, eg as much as hour long texting conversation, too emphasizing visual than you want to emphasize, because you lack time to make or search for appropriate visual to support your point, etc.

  2. Techman
    September 16, 2013

    Reblogged this on Learn, Share & Help fellow beings and commented:
    Quite useful tips for our virtual conversations.

  3. Pingback: Don’t Ignore These 5 Virtual Communication Rules | IBM Official Alumni Group: The Greater IBM Connection

  4. Pingback: 3 Simple Miscommunication Fixes | Digital Attitude: Becoming Eminent

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