3 Ways to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication

Why do our communications misfire so frequently when they're over email, IM, or teleconferencing? Because of lack of context, according to Keith Ferrazzi at HBR Blog Network.

"Think about the information you can glean just from the seating arrangement in a physical conference room -- who sits next to whom, who's at the head of the table, who has put a little extra distance between herself and her neighbor, and so on," he writes. "All those cues are missing in a typical teleconference."

So how can you get around this issue? Ferrazzi's tips are all worth a read, but these stuck out the most to me:

1. Fight the "illusion of transparency."

You might not be as in sync with the person you're addressing as you think you are. Try to empathize with him, to point of putting yourself in his shoes. (And, if possible, in his office: if you can get a look at where he works most of the time, you'll feel more connected when you're speaking virtually.)

2. Speak the right "language."

Don't talk in pure numbers to the creatives, in other words, and don't bore the math types with visual representations of data -- unless they specifically indicate that this is the best way to communicate with them.

3. Spell things out.

Tell the other folks in your group how you prefer to be communicated with, when you'd like to sign off on something before it goes to the next stage, and so on. Don't assume that everyone understands what you mean. Be prepared to explain.

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