Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 6;   February 9, 2005: Virtual Communications: III

Virtual Communications: III

by

Participating in or managing a virtual team presents special communications challenges. Here's Part III of some guidelines for communicating with members of virtual teams.

Here's Part III of my guidelines for communications in virtual teams. See "Virtual Communications: II," Point Lookout for February 2, 2005, for more.

What not to eat on the phone: Peanut butter

Peanut butter is one of those foods that's especially likely to interfere with telephone conversation. Photo by Ralph Poupore.

Don't give the time or date in voicemail
Most systems already provide the day, date, and time for messages. Why duplicate it? And if you're in a different day and time yourself, you could just confuse the recipient.
Give your phone number twice
For voicemail messages, supply your phone number not only near the beginning, but also at the end.
If using a desk or wall phone, press the button to hang up
Replacing the handset to hang up creates a clattering sound that can be irritating in voicemail.
Eating, drinking, and chewing gum are no-nos on the phone
Whether live or in voicemail, avoid these activities. Even when you're muted, you never know when you'll need to speak.
Sit up straight or stand when you're on the phone
Sit up straight
when you're on the phone.
You need the full power
and nuance of your voice.
Slouching or lying down interferes with full use of your lungs and diaphragm. You need the full power and nuance of your voice.
Learn how to use your voicemail system
Learn how to skip, skip-with-erase, move to mailbox, reply-immediate, pause, repeat, transfer to email, forward, forward with preface, forward to list, sort by priority, and whatever else your system offers.
Learn the remote commands too
If you call into your office system to pick up messages, learn the most useful commands. And carry them on a wallet card.
Customize your outgoing message
If you know you'll be returning at a specific time, record an outgoing message that tells callers when to call back. This can really cut down on your voicemail.
Consider calling someone's voicemail directly
Often, you don't really need to speak to the recipient live. If a voicemail will do, call voicemail directly.
Suspend interpretation of silences
If someone doesn't respond to a message — email or voice — check whether the message was received. Going ballistic is usually a bad idea, especially when based on a misinterpretation of silence.
Always confirm — don't rely on silence
Never leave a message of the form "I'll let you know if X condition is satisfied, otherwise execute Y." Always confirm either way, because messages don't always arrive.
Slow down your "offense" response
In face-to-face communications, we use body language, facial expression, and tone of voice to adjust our communications and our interpretations, and this keeps us out of trouble. By email and phone, where these adjustments are problematic or impossible, we're more likely to offend and to feel offended. Slow down and ask for elaboration. Breathe more.

Most important, express appreciations verbally, publicly, and often. In person, we smile, we nod, we backslap, and any number of other things that express approval non-verbally. Remotely, these gestures are unavailable to us, so when we want to encourage each other, or express approval, we have to say things verbally that seem unnatural, artificial, or forced. It takes practice. Get started today. Go to top Top  Next issue: Top Ten Signs of a Blaming Culture  Next Issue

303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsIs your organization a participant in one or more global teams? Are you the owner/sponsor of a global team? Are you managing a global team? Is everything going well, or at least as well as any project goes? Probably not. Many of the troubles people encounter are traceable to the obstacles global teams face when building working professional relationships from afar. Read 303 Tips for Virtual and Global Teams to learn how to make your global and distributed teams sing. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrengYbkpHlhTtWNScqyner@ChaclJDIbJehfVBCgnpBoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

PizzaCritical Thinking and Midnight Pizza
When we notice patterns or coincidences, we draw conclusions about things we can't or didn't directly observe. Sometimes the conclusions are right, and sometimes not. When they're not, organizations, careers, and people can suffer. To be right more often, we must master critical thinking.
Horns of a dilemmaChoices for Widening Choices
Choosing is easy when you don't have much to choose from. That's one reason why groups sometimes don't recognize all the possibilities — they're happiest when choosing is easy. When we notice this happening, what can we do about it?
Historic handshake in Porvoo Finland in 2007The Ups and Downs of American Handshakes: II
Where the handshake is a customary business greeting, it's possible to offend accidentally. Here's Part II of a set of guidelines for handshakes in the USA.
Three simple carabinersTeam Risks
Working in teams is necessary in most modern collaborations, but teamwork does carry risks. Here are some risks worth mitigating.
An outstanding example of the Utility Pole anti-patternWorkplace Anti-Patterns
We find patterns of counter-effective behavior — anti-patterns — in every part of life, including the workplace. Why? What are their features?

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness, Effective Communication at Work and Virtual and Global Teams for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A human marionetteComing November 29: Manipulators Beware
When manipulators try to manipulate others, they're attempting to unscrupulously influence their targets to decide or act in some way the manipulators prefer. But some targets manage to outwit their manipulators. Available here and by RSS on November 29.
Desperation at workAnd on December 6: Reframing Revision Resentment: I
From time to time, we're required to revise something previously produced — some copy, remarks, an announcement, code, the Mona Lisa, whatever… When we do, some of us experience frustration, and view the assignment as an onerous chore. Here are some alternative perspectives that might ease the burden. Available here and by RSS on December 6.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenJxMitIvTkPbGrWlmner@ChacDBorpZmcMASFmgMIoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
Most Ten Project Management Fallaciesof what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy new blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.