January 21, 2019
BIZ BOOKS

How to connect with people in a virtual world

"Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World" by Nick Morgan.

Today's faceless technology (i.e. email, texting, social media, voicemail, conference calls), while making communication easier, isn't necessarily making it more effective. By replacing face-to-face, the emotional connection of voice, tone, gestures and body language are lost. These face-to-face elements deepen conversations quickly and help avoid miscommunication because both parties can ask questions and receive instantaneous feedback.

There's another consequence of virtual communication: We're bombarded with so much from so many sources that it's often difficult to determine what's important and respond thoughtfully and timely. When we do respond, it's often "snippet" feedback, which makes it difficult for the recipient to decipher meaning.

Morgan offers this advice for making virtual communication "less faceless": To the extent possible, establish important relationships in person. Creating "I know you and you know me" trust makes ensuing virtual communication more personal. So does writing conversationally rather than in biz speak.

As you sort through things requiring a response, decide what's a priority. When responding, think about the point of the communication and what the other(s) need from the exchange. Summarize your understanding of the sender's request at the beginning of your response. After the "As I understand it" intro, ensure you're clear about what you can do and when you can do it. Include "what's next" questions. Avoid expressing negatives; these should be discussed face-to-face.

When introducing a new idea virtually, start with a story about why something must be done. Explain how those involved can make it happen. Close with a proposed next step and ask for feedback.

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