Now more than ever, we are communicating with our colleagues and clients digitally rather than face-to-face. There are a lot of benefits to this, but it also means more attention needs to be paid to how we get our messages across.
Here are our 5 top tips for successful digital communication:
1) Set the tone:
We’ve all experienced it: we read an email or message that sounds confrontational or rude, when in fact that wasn’t the sender’s intention at all. When you’re relying on written communication to get a point across, keep in mind that things might be interpreted differently.
Tone plays a huge part in how our message is received, and it’s easy to lose that in writing. Review your messages before you hit send. If your organisation is open to it, an emoji or two can help convey expression or emotion. But when it comes to keeping things professional, it always pays to do a quick re-read (or get a friend to help) and ask yourself how this will come across to someone else.
2) Spell it out:
Use clear and concise language to help make your message easily understood and prevent things from being lost in translation. If you’re feeling a certain way and the other person needs to know, don’t rely on them “reading between the lines” to get it. Tell them what you are thinking!
Equally, a vague or leading message can cause unnecessary anxiety in your recipient. Have you felt your stomach drop when you receive an: “I need to talk to you” or “call me now” message? We humans are amazing at letting our minds jump straight to the worst-case scenario when we read something like that. Be kind to your recipient and make sure any digital messages you are sending out are clear and to the point.
3) Don’t skip the niceties:
When we meet someone in person, there are certain social niceties and practices that we all follow, even if we don’t realise it! Smiling, handshaking, quick small talk about the weather – all those little actions we do to help each other feel more comfortable and create a good impression can easily be overlooked when we’re connecting virtually.
Luckily transferring these common pleasantries to our online communication can be as simple as including a greeting and remembering to use your manners! There is a fine line though, you don’t want to sound over-the-top or too fluffy. But including the small stuff in your online communications can make big a difference. Take these two messages for example:
Can you send through those accounts when you get a chance?
Hope your day is going well. Can you please send through those accounts when you get a chance?
Even though both messages are asking for the exact same thing, adding a few extra “niceties” changes the tone completely. We know which version we’d rather receive!
4) Pay attention to ‘reply all’
The ‘reply-all’ function can be a lifesaver, but it can also be a hindrance. Especially if you’re on the receiving end of multiple reply-all’s that you didn’t need to see. Make sure you pay attention to who you are responding to and ensure that only the relevant people are on the receiving end!
5) Stick to the appropriate channels:
Keep important work talk in emails, and casual chat through other messaging platforms, if you have the option. If you’re new to the job or unsure what the best methods of communication are for various things, don’t be afraid to ask!
Some conversations are better off being had verbally to convey the right meaning or emotion. Consider whether a phone or video call would be more appropriate if you need to talk about something that may be sensitive.
A survey was recently done in the UK to find out what common email phrases or habits drive people crazy the most. It all comes down to personal preference of course, but being aware of what others might deem ‘annoying’ never hurts!
Even if you prefer to do things in person, digital communication is here to stay. Get your point across and stay in people’s good books by following these simple tips!
Kirsty and Nikki