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Good communication so critical in virtual businesses

It was a ‘typical Monday’ today …. but a few things that happened throughout the busy day made me realize, yet again, about how important good communication for those ’sticky situations’ is in a virtual organization.

I’ve been working virtually for 6 years and have certainly run into my share of ’sticky’ situations that may have been avoided had they been in a typical office environment.

Since we rely so heavily on email correspondence – it’s absolutely critical that we remember a few key points when it comes to these challenging situations and how we handle the communication around them. Good communication with our colleagues, clients, prospects – everyone goes a long way and it will either keep or bruise your reputation. In fact, it can make or break your relationships if you’re not careful.

Those who know me well know that I’m a bit ’sensitive’ when it comes to communication. I really (really!) try to word my emails in such a way that they don’t come across as insulting, impatient, rude, or like I’m blaming or selling someone out. If I receive an email that implies any of these – I get a tad bit cranky – just as I’m sure many others would, depending on the content.

So here’s just a few tips to consider before hitting that send button in an unpleasant situation. Remember, there’s no way to retrieve those words once you have sent them …

  • If you receive an email that upsets you – close it and come back to it later. If you fire off a response before you settle your emotions, you may include things you really didn’t want (or need) to say and completely jeopardize your relationship. Take a few minutes and revisit the email later and respond then.
  • Before you hit that send button – read your email one last time. If you received this email – would it upset you? Take the time to re-read and make sure it says what you want to say without causing conflict.
  • Select your words wisely. Make sure the words you use will not make the other person feel like you are attacking them in any way. Again, ask yourself if the words used would upset you if you were on the receiving end.
  • Decide if it’s really worth a response. Sometimes it’s just not worth responding to an email. If it’s something that should be ‘dropped’, then leave it as is. You may feel like you need to put in the last word but is it really worth it? Likely not.
  • Think about other options – would it be better to pick up the phone and talk to the person instead of sending an email? Going the extra step and clarifying a situation voice-to-voice can save a relationship. Take a few minutes to think of the points you want to cover. Don’t act defensive …. talk it out and you’ll likely feel much better immediately after.

These are tips we all know but tend to forget in difficult situations. Think of them next time you receive an irritating email … it may save you a few gray hairs! 🙂

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