Tips for preventing electronic communication blunders
Ever been in a video conference where you can’t get a word in edgeways? Been forced to mediate as a staffer misinterprets the intent of an email? Had to firefight after a worker publishes a throwaway comment on social media? While virtual communication tools exist, many staffers – and managers – use them poorly. In her recent study, Dr Karin S Moser of Roehampton University says, to prevent these situations from arising, managers need to set clear rules to make sure virtual media is used effectively. This smoothing of communication lines is vital. Trust is the “social glue” of all electronic communication, says Moser. This trust is costly and difficult to regain if lost.Social cues, such as tone of voice and body language, play major roles in human interaction. But because electronic communication does not use these resources, miscommunication can occur. Moser’s tips on virtual collaboration:
1. Know your medium
Staff should be trained in the differences between face-to-face and virtual collaboration. What is implied in human interaction needs to be explicit in electronic communication.
2. Show an example
Leaders should have both experience and understanding of the differences in these forms of communication.
3. Set the tone
Clear rules must be set on how employees should use electronic communications.
4. Mix it up
Lack of informal contact in virtual collaboration must be counterbalanced with more regular communication.
5. Finger on the pulse
Communication should be monitored and changed if necessary.