Here's Part III of my guidelines for communications in virtual teams. See "Virtual Communications: II," Point Lookout for February 2, 2005, for more.
- 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. Top Next Issue
Is 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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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Dangerous Phrases
- I recently upgraded my email program to a new version that "monitors messages for offensive text."
It hasn't worked out well. But the whole affair got me to think about everyday phrases that do tend
to set people off. Here's a little catalog.
- FedEx, Flocks, and Frames of Reference
- Your point of view — or reference frame — affects what you see, and how you experience the
world around you. By choosing a reference frame consciously, you can see things differently, and open
a universe of new choices.
- The Questions Not Asked
- Often, the path to forward progress is open and waiting, but we don't recognize it, or we convince ourselves
it isn't there. Learning to see what we believe isn't there is difficult. Here are some reasons why.
- Still More Things I've Learned Along the Way
- When I have an important insight, or when I'm taught a lesson, I write it down. Here's another batch
from my personal collection.
- Wacky Words of Wisdom: VI
- Adages, aphorisms, and "words of wisdom" seem valid often enough that we accept them as universal
and permanent. Most aren't. Here's Part VI of a collection of widely held beliefs that can be misleading
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
- And on December 25: Disjoint Awareness
- In collaborations, awareness of how our own work might interfere with the work of others is essential. Unless our awareness of others' work — and their awareness of ours — matches reality, the collaboration's objective is at risk. Available here and by RSS on December 25.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people 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.