During these times of working remotely, it’s hard to replicate the interpersonal rapport built in an office setting. Without the body language cues that help us to communicate in face-to-face settings, it’s not always clear whether we are understanding our colleagues, and whether they are hearing us.
Here are some tips for being seen and heard when working remotely – and for actively listening to others:
- Be prepared
Get ready for each important meeting by jotting down the points you’d like to discuss. This will help you to confidently communicate during meetings with your colleagues or team leaders. It can also help to request that an agenda is set beforehand, so that you’ll have your chance to raise important issues.
- Keep lines of communication open
Given that you can’t pop over to a colleague or manager’s desk to ask a quick question, it’s important to find other channels to connect. Tools like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp are handy channels for the small questions that aren’t worth a phone call or email. Feel free to jump in on group discussions when you can help or offer an insight.
- Speak up
If you’re a quiet and retiring person, it might be tempting to hide behind your computer screen or mobile device in this time of remote working. However, it’s important to participate actively in group chats, calls and videoconferences, so you’re not forgotten. Greet people, engage in a bit of small talk when appropriate, and ask questions when the opportunity presents itself.
- Be proactive about follow-ups
Many meetings adjourn without any follow-up because no one took the lead in developing the action plan. Being proactive by sending an email to recap the content of the meeting and the action points that were discussed is a great way to boost your visibility. The replies from your colleagues will also help to sharpen the shared understanding about the points that were discussed and agreed upon.
- Use video as much as possible
Even if you don’t feel like shaving, doing your hair or getting out of your jammies, it’s wise to get ready for work each day and use video for most of your important meetings. It will help you and your colleagues to stay focused and engaged in the conversation because it’s harder to play with your phone or drift away into a day dream. It also lets you see each other’s facial expressions and body language.
- Be an active listener
Communication is a two-way street, so listening is as valuable a skill as being able to articulate yourself. Keep away from non-urgent texts and emails during a meeting to give the speaker your undivided attention. Save questions for the appropriate time or use the raise hand function rather than interrupting. And feel free to recap an important point back to someone who has spoken to ensure that you have understood them correctly.
Watch our webinar for more insights
Please watch our ‘Living through disruption’ webinar on YouTube where we explored some more of the human, business and tech challenges of the remote working world.
Moderators and panelists included:
- Asanda Sosibo, Portal sales manager, Tarsus Distribution
- Shirlinia Martin, General manager, channel sales, Tarsus Distribution
- Bev Hancock, conversational catalyst, strategic facilitator and interactive presenter
- Siphiwe Moyo, CEO of Paradigm People Solutions
[Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels]