4.3 The importance of clear communication
While communication has been made easier with the advent of digital media, it does bring its own problems. Some visual cues, such as gestures and facial expressions, get lost in digital communication. For example, there are visual cues that you could pick up were you in the same room, but that get lost in a video call or conference. This can lead to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Effective communication patterns are the biggest indicator of performance, so anything that gets in the way of you communicating your meaning clearly needs to be attended to.
In email communication, it is much easier for the meaning of your words to get lost or misunderstood as the reader of the email has no context to judge the way you are saying this. Are you meaning to be jokey or serious, for example? If the person was in front of you and speaking to you, then you would be able to judge the meaning from body language and tone of voice.
Albert Mehrabian’s work from the 1960s and early 1970s, which is still considered as valid today, showed that as much as 35–40% of your message is communicated by the tone of your voice and as little as 7% by the actual words (BusinessBalls, 2017) (Figure 5).
Without non-verbal and tonal clues to give you the sense of the way you meant the words to be heard, it is easy for misinterpretation to slip in.
For virtual work, it is clear that written communication skills in particular need to be well honed and that the virtual worker needs to be an expert in communicating their message without the usual aids we rely on in face-to-face communication.
Activity 3 The 7 Cs of communication
Watch this short video from MindTools which explains the 7 Cs of communication.
Now make a note in Table 2 of what each of the 7 Cs stand for.
Table 2 The 7 Cs of clear communication
Table 2 (completed) The 7 Cs of clear communication
Next you will look in more detail at the different types of technology that can be used in virtual team-working.