I do not know about you, but I tend to be “wordy” in my communications, both in person and in writing. You see, what I should have said is simply, “I’m wordy.” If you think things were moving at a fast pace when you were in the office, this remote working is a whole new animal.
As you embrace this new dynamic, recognize there are a lot of factors that play into whether your message will get read and or understood. Of course, the boss’s emails are going to be viewed without question, as are those of “some” team members, and marked for high priority. But consider three things: your audience, your communication motive, and working remotely requires a little extra finesse to get your message across.
Keep the following tips for effective communication in mind:
- Context, context, context. Communicating remotely presents a challenge that does not happen as often in face-to-face communications. When you send your message, are you aware of your reader‘s location, cultural norms, native language, or time zone? Could this be a bad day or a time when both you and the reader are experiencing the psychological effects of checking in virtually?
- Consider the audience. Will this communication include your manager and other higher–ups? Perhaps this is not a good time for your fun emoji or entertaining slang. Also, consider the relationship to each person receiving the communication. Is it possible you will need to explain certain comments because some of the readers may not have all the necessary information to process the message?
- Be clear and concise. If the reader needs to reread the paragraph a few times to get the point, you have missed the mark.
- Use short paragraphs. Paragraphs should contain no more than five sentences.
- Be yourself! Hi, remember me, I am wordy. That means I need to take a break from the writing and reread it get to the point. But I need to be myself, so a little wordiness is OK. I need to be careful. I want my messages to be read and not to force people to say, “I don‘t have time for this. I will read it later.” This then could cause me to make everything urgent, so it gets read on my timetable. Not good.
- Triple check everything you write. Read the message aloud. Sometimes our eyes will trick us into thinking we are using the correct word like they are when the word should be their. Reading aloud helps are ears and eyes to sync up with what we are saying to use the proper words and syntax.
- Be assertive and direct. Try not to use a passive voice.
- Use formatting to add emphasis, indicating your tone. For example, italicize words to “lightly” emphasize and bold them for intense focus. Be careful when using All Caps. Often this is seen as shouting. However, attention can be added to a paragraph with strategically placed words in all caps.
- Ask for feedback. Tell the reader what to do next. Sending a message may not get a response if you do not ask.
- Clarify and summarize as often as you can. Always start with “Telling them what you will tell them, then Tell them, and Tell them what you told them or the three “T’s.” The reader will thank you for providing enough detail that the picture is clear and follow up questions are unnecessary.
As you continue to navigate the remote landscape, remember the ten tips for effective communication above. Do not forget them if you return to your workplace.