Guide: Communicating at a Distance

Samantha Ruff
April 8, 2020 ·
6 min read
How-to

It’s not always possible to meet in person, but that doesn’t mean we need to cease communicating.

Obviously, nowadays there are more ways than ever to communicate from a distance, from instant messages to video calls. The number of different options can sometimes be a little overwhelming.

But just because we have lots of remote communication options, that doesn’t immediately make us good remote communicators. Here are important rules to follow and tools to use to be ensure you become proficient at communicating from a distance.

Communicate accordingly to the medium

Video calls, voice calls, instant messaging, email, social media postings: there are so many means of communicating remotely that is it difficult to adapt the way you communicate each time, but that is exactly what you need to do.

Think about it. A video call gives us the opportunity to see the other person, but often we have to contend with slight delays in what we do and say. Voice calls, however, tend to be a little quicker in exchange, but then we do not have the benefit of being able to see each other. Body language – something that can be such an essential part of communicating – is suddenly redundant.

A simple question can prove how easy it is to miscommunicate through the incorrect use of a medium, and here it is: How many times have you offended, or been offended, by an instant message? And now compare that to the number of times you have been offended by an email. Emails very rarely put our noses out of joint the way an instant message can, simply because it is so brief.

You could make a similar comparison between a telephone call, where you can obviously only hear the other person, and a video call, where you obviously have a little bit more to play with in terms of being able to see the person and judge their body language.

The fact is, instant messages usually cause the most problems because of the extremely short, and often reactive, nature of the messages. Emojis can help hugely with the tone of the message, and this is an example of communicating well according to the medium. Would you stuff an email full of emojis? Probably not.

The key here is to adapt the way you communicate for each method of communication. That is what the best remote communicators do.

Write well

Writing is a skill, but often the key is to keep it simple. If you have difficulties producing written work that reflects what you want to say, consider using an online writing tool such as Linguix, which not only fixes structural and spelling mistakes but can help you with the tone and formality of your writing. Linguix even offers templates to help with all manner of different communication tasks, such as writing blog posts.

If you want to communicate well remotely, let the right tools guide you.

Respond swiftly and clearly

Another issue with their being so many means of communication these days is that it is hard to stay on top of all the ways that people can (and do) contact you. That means you may need to keep a tab on WhatsApp, Slack, Skype, Email and Facebook, for example, and that can be tricky.

As well as ensuring that you manage your incoming messages properly, you must also ensure that you have an effective means of replying in a timely manner. Because communication is so instant, people can be a little impatient when it comes to expecting a reply, so don’t let your tardiness in sending a response, damage important business relationships. Use an app manager to collate all of your incomings, and then have an efficient process for prioritizing and then responding. Using set templates can be helpful, so you don’t need to rewrite similar messages from scratch each and every time.

And keep your messages simple. Overcomplicating things very rarely does any good. Reply in a timely fashion, be simple and clear in your response, use the correct tools to help you (such as Linguix) and see how you can quickly become an efficient and productive remote communicator.

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