10 Tips To Improve Remote Conversations
Communication is key for business success. While it's easy for leaders to connect with those they see face to face, they must also take time to appropriately manage and communicate with remote workers. This often means managers must communicate via email, text, phone or teleconference.
Author John R. Stoker offers some advice for communicating effectively, especially when you can't interact with these employees in person. We share his advice in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
1. Prepare in advance. Taking a minute to deliberately think about and identify your intention and purpose for holding the conversation will help you focus on the desired outcome.
2. Establish an agenda. Stoker advises preparing an agenda and asking remote participants what they hope to accomplish during the conversation. Outlining your intention in advance establishes mutual understanding and purpose prior to the interaction.
3. Agree on a time limitation. Identifying and sticking to an agreed-upon completion time will increase your credibility as a leader and show that you value others' time.
4. Give your full attention. It's just as important to schedule uninterrupted time for remote conversations as it is for in-person meetings. Eliminate any potential distractions, maintain focus and be fully present during your scheduled meeting time.
5. Identify virtual cues. Stoker says to remain alert for vocal and verbal cues, such as sighing or long pauses.
6. Clarify meaning of virtual cues. Once you have identified the virtual cues, try to explore what they mean. This will help create understanding and clarity in your conversations.
7. Ask more than you tell. Because you are not face to face, it's important to ask questions and listen carefully to the responses to make sure that you are not misunderstanding what is being communicated. Ensure that you have adequate time built into your schedule to ask clarifying questions.
8. Welcome feedback. When you are not the one performing a remote task, the person working off-site may know more than you do about what is or is not working. When offering solutions or making decisions that may affect how these remote employees are doing their jobs, invite their feedback on your decisions or proposals.
9. Surface evidence. Looking for evidence that supports a problem-solving conversation tends to take the negative emotions out of the conversation while allowing you to focus on the issues at hand.
10. Summarize. Whether you are making decisions or just clarifying what was discussed or agreed upon, making a deliberate attempt to summarize and check your understanding will assure that all parties are on the same page and have reached a clear, mutual understanding.
When you strive to be more precise and intentional with your conversations, you can help your remote team members thrive.
Source: John R. Stoker is the author of Overcoming Fake Talk and the president of DialogueWORKS, Inc. His organization helps clients and their teams improve leadership engagement in order to achieve superior results. Stoker is an expert in the fields of leadership, change, dialogue, critical thinking, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence.