The Power of Words (4 min)

The Power of Words

When communicating in person, we rely on lots of contextual and non-verbal clues along with the words that we hear to understand the full meaning and tone of what someone is saying to us. As we all experience from time to time, text-based communication can easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted without the help of these non-verbal clues. Humor and tone are notoriously tricky to communicate adequately over text.

Here are some tips for how to make sure your words have the impact that you intend and are received as clearly as possible.

Check messages carefully before sending and be mindful of your tone

When email correspondence or instant messaging make up a large percentage of your communication, it is easy for the tone or intention of written messages to be misconstrued without accompanying non-verbal cues. This can be made worse by the lack of connection between colleagues who rarely, if ever, meet face to face. For this reason, it is important to take the time to review your messages before sending them and maybe, write a bit more than usual to make your meaning super clear. If appropriate, using emojis can sometimes help to insert personality into written messages.

Cross-cultural communication

When teams are based in different countries or distinct cultural contexts, it is easy for misunderstandings to arise. The style of communication may be different and may receive a different reaction from somebody in another cultural context. Cultural norms around communication may be very different and if this is not understood, it could lead to hurt feelings or misunderstandings between remote team members.

It can’t hurt to do a little research about norms of communication in other cultures where your team members are. Be mindful of using slang or making jokes that might exclude or offend others in your team. Keep communication clear, professional and inclusive at all times. Words are powerful tools and are easily open to misinterpretation.

Check out this video (4 min) for top tips from the leader of a fully remote business on how she and her colleagues optimize communication in their virtual working environment.