Avoiding miscommunication while working remotely

Right now, many people are working from home and as a result, work dynamics have changed a bit. Anyone who was used to walking down a hall or around a corner to talk to someone isn't able to do that and video conferencing is replacing in-person meetings. As a result, the way people communicate with each other has had to adjust. You might not think about how much you rely on tone of voice or body language to understand someone, or get your own point across. However, working remotely and relying more on email and video communication means it can be harder to get a good read on a conversation.  Many of us are also experiencing many emotions (fear, anger, loneliness) that we usually don't express while at work. 

Studies show that about 65% of communication is non-verbal. So, it's important to take a little time and make sure you're communicating as clearly as possible, especially because many people are already under a great deal of stress. Without the benefit of body language and other cues, it's easy to misinterpret the tone of a text message or email, and this can lead to even more stress. 

Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy (authors of "No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work") have written an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review about how to avoid the most frequent digital miscommunications. If you are getting used to working remotely, or not sure how to support your colleagues and/or team while working remotely, this article should be very helpful. They include advice about re-reading emails before you send them to check for tone and clarity, as well as using both video chat and email to communicate, especially when you may be communicating with someone you don't know very well (or with senior colleagues). 

If you would like more information beyond the article from Fosslien and West Duffy, we have some e-books in our collection including:

Effective Communication at Work

Relationships That Work

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