During this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, communication is more critical than ever. With so many people working remotely, it’s easier for mishaps in management to occur, productivity to sputter, and communication to fail. In a time where effective communication is vital to survival and success, how do you ensure you’re doing it right? Like with most things, it starts by having a solid understanding.
Importance of Workplace Communication
When it comes to communication, it doesn’t just magically stop with family, friends, and other relationships. Workplace communication is just as important as any other variety. When done effectively, workplace communication can boost productivity and morale. It can also minimize conflict and increase employee engagement, which helps your team members invest in their jobs and the people around them.
4 Types of Communication
A quick Google search about communication will show you there are many people with countless ideas and interpretations of communication types and the most effective way to utilize them. However, instead of handing you a list of tips and tricks or unnecessarily explaining the difference between assertive and aggressive communication styles, we’re going to keep it simple. After those aforementioned searches and an additional bit of research, it’s clear we can break communication down into 4 basic categories.
1. Verbal Communication
In the purest sense, verbal communication occurs when you open your mouth to speak, and those words travel into the ears of someone listening to you. Instances of verbal communication can occur in group meetings, over Zoom calls, or when you’re hanging out with a friend for some quality coffee and conversation. Yet whenever we interact in a face-to-face manner, we can’t help but engage in nonverbal communication.
2. Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication essentially covers everything we say regardless of whether or not we’re speaking. Every microexpression, smile, touch, and change in posture can communicate subtle messages to other people. Have you ever made eyes at someone from across the room and they take it as an invitation to come over and talk to you? Perhaps you’ve put yourself between 2 people in an argument and stared one of them down until the conflict ended. While those are some pretty obvious examples of nonverbal communication, it can be much more subtle. In fact, nonverbal communication is a hot topic for research and incredibly important as a social building block.
3. Written Communication
In addition to what we do and don’t say as a form of communication, another well-known medium involves the words we write. This article is a great example of written communication. It’s conveying specific information in the absence of a spokesperson or the ability to read body language. In the workplace, you might find other examples of written communication via emails, memos, contracts, and more. Though as simple as this communicational variety may be, it does have limitations. Emotion and intent are difficult to express through letters on a page. Good writers find ways to work around that by carefully choosing the words they use, but context is still key. If there’s any doubt in your mind, send a quick, out-of-the-blue, “we need to talk” text to your significant other and see what happens.
4. Visual Communication
Anybody who has ever worked in marketing can tell you the importance of visual communication. The ability to make people feel an emotion by looking at an image, or feel the drive to purchase a product after they saw it in action is a powerful tool. When coupled with the other forms of communication, the meanings we are able to convey are nearly endless.
A COVID State of Mind
When it comes to the coronavirus, communicational needs are incredibly high. Not only are people concerned with their health and safety, but many businesses are in a position where most of their staff is working remotely. While this unique situation was once (and likely still is) viewed as a perk for some employees and employers, it also creates difficulties for those who are not used to working from home or for those whose jobs are best performed in a workplace environment.
As we continue to adapt to our new world and workplace environments, C-suite members, team leaders, and everyday employees need to do their best to overcommunicate. With potential spikes in anxiety and depression, it’s crucial to have interactions and meaningful conversations at all levels. As you plan your next steps, make changes, and pivot where needed, make sure your team members are informed and on the same page.
Your Roadmap to Successful Communication
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to communicating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are a few things you can do to take care of your team. Chiefest among them is stepping up your levels of conscious communication and boosting the quality of such. Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way.
Reassure Your Team
Everyone is a little worried right now. Nobody is sure if the virus is going to hit their homes or if they’re going to lose their jobs. Do everything you can to reassure your people and stave off the growing panic. Your team members look to you as their leader, so act like one.
Clearly Express Expectations
People and businesses run more smoothly when you have clear expectations. Take extra care to line up to-do lists, touch base with your team members, and make sure that everyone contributes. It’s hard for minds to wander when they are engaged and hard at work. Help your people know what’s expected of them, and find ways to help them accomplish their objectives.
Keep People Informed
Scientia potentia est. Knowledge is power. Rumors, fear, and distraction are often a product of ignorance. Make certain your teams know what’s happening—both inside and outside of the workplace. Hold conference calls or weekly company meetings to build confidence in your leadership and the business. If your employees, team members, or coworkers don’t feel confident in the information they have, they will look for it elsewhere. Control the narrative by communicating truthfully. Find ways to share both good and bad news without causing conflict, but don’t keep your people in the dark.
Unless you were around during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, this is probably your first rodeo. Be patient with yourself and your coworkers. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, so it’s okay to make mistakes and figure things out as you go. Just keep a clear head and a long-term perspective. Everything will work out alright.