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Tips for Effective Communication

June 27, 2019

For DVELP as a remote-first business, effective communication is important to function like a well-oiled machine! This blog post explores the dos & don'ts of communication with some helpful nuggets of information along the way.

Finding the balance

It’s all too easy to either under-communicating or over-communicating. Find the time to reach out to your colleagues regularly, making sure that it doesn’t go longer than two days without communication. Equally, keep in mind that they may busy so be careful not to overload them with too much information! If you are new to the company reach out and get to know your colleagues. However this works both ways, so existing employees must also take the time to get to know who they are working with.

Top tip: If you are working alone you won’t have a “lunch buddy” or regular tea/coffee/water cooler chats, so use this time to reach out to colleagues and strike up a short conversation. Building a good rapport with your colleagues will encourage better working relationships!

Communication etiquette

Watch your tone and always reread your messages before hitting send. What may not have sounded blunt the first time may the second time round reading it. Also remember that working remotely means no visual or audible social cues are present. Many remote workers find using emojis can sometimes help humanise the conversation.

If you are busy, always notify people that you are and that you will get back to them in due course. If possible, please do not ignore people altogether, as this saves times for us all.

When you are using Slack, get into the habit of setting your status so that your colleagues are aware of whether it is a good time to get in touch.

It’s always useful to send any important information in an email too, ensuring vital information is not lost!

Finally, without stating the OBVIOUS, please do not use ALL CAPS! We don’t want appear shouty or angry.

What’s the secret to successful communication?

The old fashioned saying “it takes two to tango” is very relevant in regards to communication! A person cannot expect excellent communication by relying on one person to be really good at it. It has to be reciprocated by the other person too. Both parties need to present and give undivided attention.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place” - George Bernard Shaw

Sometimes we think have sent the message or made that phone call and we haven’t, or in some cases we forget important details. Make sure you are clear with all you need to say. In some cases it can be difficult to understand what is being communicated to us. Don’t get frustrated or upset. Instead change the communication method, pick up the phone or have a video chat.

The four things you must remember when communicating are:

  1. Listen - listening makes up 50% of communication and is just as important as speech.
  2. Patience - give your colleagues time to explain in detail, do not rush them as vital details could then be missed and wires can become crossed.
  3. Ask questions - to make sure you have all the right information, you have to ask relevant questions!
  4. Have your say - if something doesn’t sound right or you feel there is an issue: speak up! People will not know there’s problem unless it has been shared.

Time saving & mitigating the risk

Use the Replay & Confirm Method, e.g. my understanding of what you just told me is X, so I’m going to do Y. Is this correct?

Here’s an example of the Replay & Confirm Method between Tom (our CEO) and me (Executive Assistant):

  • Tom: “Hey Ruby we need to get some travel booked for next week. I’m heading over to (CLIENT SITE). Need to be back by five-ish for another meeting. Can you sort?”
  • Ruby: “Yes sure, I will have a look into travel now. Just confirm: you would like train tickets for (DATE) and you will need to leave by (TIME) and you will need to be back at (STATION) for (CLIENT) meeting?”
  • Tom: “That is correct, however I will need to go back to (STATION) instead”

(As you can see this encourages forgotten details to be added as well as confirming understanding. Both parties understand what has been communicated and what has been asked.)

Hopefully after reading this and putting some of this into practice, you are left with stronger working relationships, fewer mistakes made, less time correcting errors, higher productivity and greater job satisfaction!


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