3 Easy Methods for Better Asynchronous Communication
Today, most of our work communications take place online rather than in person. In the coming years, we can expect to see the trend of asynchronous communication continue. Many of us are finding that communicating effectively across emails, messages, and social media isn’t as simple as it might seem. Between tones and typos, online communications leave plenty of room for misinterpretation and confusion.
Crafting well-written messages is not only important for getting work done, but also for establishing healthy and friendly relationships with colleagues. So, what does it take to become a communication pro across digital lines? Focus on the big three: clarity, tone, and timing.
Write like you talk
Remember high school term papers? If you were like many students, you did whatever you could to reach the page requirement. Many times that meant using more complex words and phrases as well as longer sentences. These habits often carry over into our professional communication. And while they might be good tactics to hit those page requirements, they don’t work for achieving clarity.
For asynchronous communication, write like you talk:
- Keep it conversational with contractions and everyday language.
- Avoid fluffy words and phrases. (Think “use” versus “utilize.”)
- When appropriate, lean on emojis, memes, gifs and typeface to support your message.
- Stick to a common vocabulary easily understood by all instead of acronyms and corporate speak.
- Watch out for idioms or expressions that could be regional, insensitive, or just difficult to understand.
- Give messages a quick proof before hitting send to avoid confusing typos or grammatical errors.
Set the tone to avoid misunderstandings
The biggest thing lacking in written communication? Tone. During in-person conversations, you can use your body language, facial expressions, inflection, and even your surroundings to better convey your message. None of those aids exist in written communication.
That’s why as much as 50% of emails and messages are misunderstood. What might sound like a friendly conversation in person could be misinterpreted as a demand over email. Fortunately, there are some foolproof ways to master tone over text.
First, you can follow some of the best practices for having difficult discussions in relationships. Use “I” statements, avoid superlatives like “always” and “never,” and steer clear of assumptions. “You” statements can feel pointed and even overly direct depending on the context.
Making assumptions (especially negative ones) can also be dicey. You can try reframing them as questions. Instead of writing, “You probably haven’t started the project yet,” try, “Have you had a chance to start on the project?” This also leaves room for discussion.
For particularly tricky messages, let it simmer. Your initial response may be a bit more heated than you intend. Even 30 minutes can be enough to cool your head and reflect on your response before hitting send. You can also bring in someone to provide an external review if it’s a critical piece of communication, especially one that will have many readers.
Timing is everything
Do you wake up to a flurry of texts, alerts, and emails each morning? You’re not alone. Since the shift to remote work, working hours have grown longer. Nearly 70% of people who have begun working from home since the pandemic say they now work on the weekends; 45% reporting that they work more hours a week than before. This shift results in more messages at more hours of the day.
To establish healthy working hours and boundaries, consider the timing of your communications.
- Be mindful of “deep focus hours,” which for many employees includes the first half of the day.
- Check your colleagues’ calendars for blocked-off times and PTO before messaging or scheduling meetings.
- Acknowledge messages promptly even if it’s just a thumbs up or note that you’ll get back to it later.
- Schedule messages to send during your company’s working hours if you’re crafting them outside of those hours.
- Update your status on communication platforms when you’re away, on PTO, or otherwise unavailable.
It can take some time to master the art of asynchronous communication, but these methods will certainly take you far. As you hone your remote communication skills, integrate collaboration tools like Vibe into your toolkit to better engage with your colleagues.
Vibe offers a collaborative solution combining an interactive digital whiteboard and innovative smart software. Increase engagement and efficiency at your brainstorming sessions, virtual training, and classroom sessions by integrating your favorite applications with video conferencing and an infinite, mess-free writing canvas! Collaborate today with Vibe.
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