Whether you work from home or in a office, changes are most of your communication is done digitally. Although that’s not a perfect substitution for face-to-face communications, there are ways it can be done well.
Draft difficult emails – If you are having a difficult conversation with someone and it needs to be through email for whatever reason, draft your email, and time-permitting, sleep on it before you send it. The next morning, decide if you’re still on target with your wording, or need to “soften” it a bit. It’s never a good idea to send an email when angry.
Use the phone – With our Facebook, texting, IM, emailing world, talking to someone on the phone seems “so last season”. I often catch myself with this one. I’ll start typing an email to someone and realize that a back-and-forth email exchange could end up taking a while. So yes, I actually do call the person, have a two-minute conversation to get the answer I need or provide information requested; then I check it off my list. Think about how long some of your emails have been. If there’s no legal reason that it needs to be in writing, make a call. You could save a lot of time.
Use available tools – When I need to convey a message to multiple people, of course that’s when email makes sense. One email versus 20 conversations? That’s when I’ll go with the email. If that’s the case, pay attention to your work habits and keep your eyes open for available tools to get the job done a little quicker.
Here’s a great example. Have you ever had to schedule a meeting for a group of people? You send out an email with potential dates. It works for everyone except one person. Or everyone ends up with a bunch of “reply-all” messages cluttering their in-box. Do you see where I’m going with this? I came across a tool called Doodle a while ago that helps solve this problem. You post potential dates online that people can view through a web link. Recipients check all available proposed dates and times and you as the sender, can quickly eye up when most people are available. No account is required, it’s free, and it’s so easy a caveman could do it.
There’s obviously a lot more to communication that what’s listed above, such as listening more than you speak and not interrupting people. However, the above tips should at least give you some pointers for communicating in the digital age.