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!

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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Artist's concept of possible colonies on future mars missionsComing June 28: Tackling Hard Problems: I
Hard problems need not be big problems. Even when they're small, they can halt progress on any project. Here's Part I of an approach to working on hard problems by breaking them down into smaller steps. Available here and by RSS on June 28.
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In this Part II of our look at solving hard problems, we continue developing properties of the solution, and look at how we get from the beginning to the end. Available here and by RSS on July 5.

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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. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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