Your pile of unread messages is teetering on the verge of collapse. Your phone is blowing up. The day is packed. Finding composure in the storm is tough, but as a leader, you have no choice when communicating with your teams. Hitting the right note is a constant challenge.
Team coordination has largely shifted from direct conversations to technology. The way you communicate changes with the medium, whether Skype, texts, email, phone, or even face-to-face. The words exchanged in these dialogues matter.
As always, leaders find ways to remain cool, consistent, and positive. Clarity and accuracy are paramount. Here are some ideas to keep your words ringing true.
Proceed with Caution
Interpreting emails has become high art. Reading between the digital lines is fraught with hazard and demands extra attention. But taking extra care doesn’t have to mean taking too much extra time. Come up with some positive opening and closing lines that help you get to the point. Be concise.
Even if you can’t see your team, pretend you are sitting near them when you communicate. Put yourself in their shoes. Use an informal voice, whether verbally or in writing. Your mood comes through, so watch for sarcasm or anger, even if feels like it’s just you being you. Tell your teams not to interpret brevity as annoyance or dismissal, but just that you value their time.
Listen to Yourself
Striking the right note, literally, means the way you sound when you speak. In meetings on the phone or on Zoom, we can hear you. Thirty-eight percent of your message resonates from the tone of your voice and speaking style. Volume, pitch, inflection and rate of speech convey more than we realize. Speaking too quietly or loudly, too high or low, quickly or slowly can communicate nerves, aggression, or impatience. Try to keep a level tone.
Inflection, or emphasis on a certain part of the sentence, speaks volumes. “Upspeak,” where the end of a sentence rises like a question, has become ubiquitous. Without intending it, you come across as insecure or indecisive. Not the leadership note you want to hit.
Choose the Right Tool
The communication channel you choose has its own tone. So make sure to select the right tool for the job. Chat platforms are less formal – but also more fleeting – so assigning a critical deadline via chat will decrease its importance and increase the chances it disappears. Seeking feedback on a specific piece of content? Skip email and, instead, use a collaboration space like Clarizen where conversations can be connected to a given piece of work for fine tuning in the present as well as future reference.
Your team takes its cues from you. Even when it seems the sky is falling – or especially in such cases – pay attention to your words. And just as importantly, find the best way to broadcast your message. As an artist might choose between oils or watercolor, it’s up to you to choose the best medium for the idea you have in mind. If collaboration is key, Clarizen offers the perfect canvas.