Friday, September 25, 2009

The Challenge of Virtual Communication

With a recent report showing that time spent on social networks and blogs has tripled in the past year, and my own personal engagement increasing, I thought it time review the challenges I have faced with virtual communications.

While convenient, and perhaps less invasive than a phone call, relying on instant messaging, texting and emails to communicate views, discuss processes, or have a sensitive discussion can backfire on both parties.

The lack of body language and tone can completely change the direction of a conversation causing a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and oftentimes hurt feelings. I have been on both the giving and receiving end of a virtual communication blunder.

Virtual communication is something I face every day.  I would estimate that 90 percent of my work communication is virtual. This presents a daily challenge to be sure I am coming across professional and clear.

I find myself re-reading and editing communications several times to be sure enough sugar comes across so as not to ruffle any feathers. Even then, I am not always successful.

What is even more challenging is to be sure my instructions and requests on project assignments are very clear and make no assumptions so that my team completely understands what is being asked of them. Sometimes, I will find that I think I have communicated very clearly when in fact, I left confusion in my wake.

So how can I improve at this? Well, keep pouring on the sugar, have an email buddy who reviews the extensive emails to be sure I did not leave anything out or that my tone is as intended, and follow these tips for professional virtual communications

Do you have any tips? If so, I would love to hear from you.