We don’t connect like we did before the pandemic. It’s time to communicate effectively again and regain professional connections.
Sure, if it wasn’t for technology advancements, many businesses would’ve failed during the pandemic. Zoom meetings, Google Chats, email and document sharing apps let people communicate often.
But they aren’t the most effective ways to communicate.
“One of the fundamental components to successful teamwork is communication,” says Clint Padgett, president and CEO of Project Success Inc. and author of How Teams Triumph: Managing By Commitment. “If you can’t talk to your team, you can’t be successful. And the key to developing communication is face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation. That’s how you pass along complex information and build relationships.”
Workplaces won’t likely leave behind the digital communication everyone has embraced. However, Padgett suggests, leaders want to help employees maintain a balance to be effective.
“Communication and conversation aren’t the same thing,” Padgett says.
He offers these tips and cautionary advice.
Recognize, overcome tech limits
Technology is good for exchanging information. But many people use as few words as possible to convey important information or emojis to replace real emotions. That creates unclear messages.
“Be honest, how many times have you misinterpreted the tone of an email or a static document?” Padgett asks.
To communicate better electronically, think before you send: If you received the text or email you’ve composed, would you understand the content without more explanation?
Be liberal with your response because you might be an expert on the subject, but your recipients aren’t. And remember, tone is nearly impossible to convey in digital communication, so consider how yours will be interpreted.
Set up 2-way communication
If leaders don’t make asynchronous communication a priority, no one else will. And that will cause more miscommunication, misinterpretation, hard feelings and ineffectiveness.
“It’s OK to text or email questions before a conversation takes place or for follow-up responses afterward,” Padgett says.
“Conversations don’t need to be the only form of communication, but they are the most important by far.”
If you can’t meet personally with people or your team, meet over video.
It has limitations, but it allows everyone to more genuinely share and read emotions and convey information more clearly.
Appreciate technology, value people
It might feel like technology got many teams and companies to work through the pandemic. But it was the people using the technology who made remote, hybrid and/or socially distanced working work.
“Technology isn’t the answer. It’s the tool,” Padgett says. “If you choose technology over people, your project won’t be successful. While your communication may be fast, you’ll sacrifice quality, clarity, accountability, and ultimately, success.”
So recognize, celebrate and reward employees for communicating effectively. Ask them to share stories about successful meetings or overcoming problems when they talked through it all – rather than exchange dozens of messages.