Is communication your best friend…? Or does it leave you hanging?

Communication is vital. Everyone agrees, at some level, but when push comes to shove and situations arise, most people struggle with communicating.

And most guidelines out there for effective communication on a professional level are about communicating with other people in the same room as you…

But what if they aren’t?

Teams that work together remotely find it sometimes difficult to communicate their ideas and feelings accurately through e-mail. Sure, Skype or other videoconference software might be the answer to some situations, but it’s not always possible, so what’s the solution?

In two words: personal guidelines.

If you don’t have personal guidelines, it doesn’t matter if the company you work for has the most comprehensive and perfect manual for professional conduct. Issues will still arise; you will still be called to the trenches and it will be expected of you to communicate. This is also true for people who work for themselves, of course.

You should work on these personal guidelines when you’re alone. They must be a set of intentions that will help you navigate a situation when it arises. Instead of merely reacting emotionally to a situation, you rely on this set of intentions that is already inside of you.

These might be:

1. Every side matters and most misunderstandings happen because the people involved see only one side (usually their side).

2. Maybe the other person is having a wonderful day, but it could also be that it’s the worse day of their lives. Don’t assume and always choose to be kind (and fair, see point 1).

3. Be a leader in your own right. A leader is not only someone who is in a position of power inside a company; any person can (and should) be a leader in their own life. Lead by example.

4. Avoid condescending tones. Maybe you know more about a subject than your colleague, that doesn’t mean you have to rub it in their faces. Be sensible and remember that there’s always someone who knows more about a subject than you do. Don’t forget to be humble.

5. Read the text you wrote as many times as needed. Don’t just write and send it in a flash. Take a breath, read several times and, if possible, take a short break and then read it again. A fresh mind is a more discerning mind.

6. Clear, concise communication. Strive for clear sentences and avoid “overcrowding” the issue by talking about too many different things. Remember the other person is not inside your head and if you give a map with too many roads, chances are you’re going to lose them along the way.

And lastly:

Evaluate your communication skills. Truly think about yourself and how you react to your surroundings (both physical and virtual). Do you struggle with communication or find it very uncomfortable to address a situation in a calm and balanced manner? Then, consider studying the subject. Stack your bookshelf with good books, take a course, watch videos from people who know their stuff. The best thing about it is that, in the end, you will not only have improved your communication skills, you will actually be a better version of you. A more open, confident and fair version. Who doesn’t want to work with someone like that? ????

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