Although the widespread use of technology offers increased efficiency and productivity in the workplace, the relationships between employers and employees can suffer from the lack of face-to-face contact. It’s important to use your interpersonal skills to maintain professional composure – regardless of the platform you're using. Whether you’re communicating via emails, text messages, or Skype messages or calls, how you utilize your interpersonal skills on these platforms is very important.
Emails are an integral part of the workday; the average US employee spends ¼ of the work week writing and reading emails. When composing emails, ensure you have a signature in place with your credentials and contact information. This way when individuals open up your email, they can quickly identify who sent the message, as that might not be apparent from your email address.
It’s important to know that you should not write emails like you speak. Salutations will vary depending on how many people you are writing to. If you are addressing more than 1 person, avoid writing “Hey guys” or “Hi folks”, instead opt for “Hi team”, “Hi all”, or simply, “All”. When addressing 1 person, “Hello [Name]”, “Hi [Name]”, or “Dear [Name]”. Don’t overuse exclamation points as emails are a go-to platform for business communications, so you want to ensure you’re being professional and concise. Jokes or humor can quickly and easily be misconstrued without vocal tones and facial expressions. Before sending an email, re-read and ensure nothing can be misinterpreted as being harsh or offensive.
Text messages are a reserved for quick questions or notifications during an emergency. Although texting is similar to email, the interpersonal skills and communication etiquettes are vastly different. For text messages, leave unnecessary details and get right to the point. You must be prompt with your responses, so don’t let texts go unanswered. Additionally, since texting is a more personal means of communication, ensure all questions or comments are brief and as succinct as possible. However, if it takes more than 3 texts to answer your question, make a quick phone call.
When crafting text messages, it is important to stay professional when texting your boss or co-workers - even if they are being informal with you. Additionally, avoid using emojis, too many exclamation points, and emoticons.
Skype for Business
Similar to texting, Skype for Business is a great tool to ask quick questions to colleagues. And like texting, you’ll want to keep it brief, work-appropriate, and be prompt when answering. Skype direct messages are also a great tool to use when co-workers are “plugged in” – for example, working with headphones on or in the middle of a project requiring full attention. Rather than interrupting their concentration, a quick Skype message can allow them to stay focused while answering your quick question.
If you’re using Skype for the phone call functionality, all the same rules as regular phone conferences apply. Be mindful that people can still “hear” your actions. If you’re smiling, frowning, uninterested, or distracted, it will convey through your tone. Make certain you’re attentive and speak with enthusiasm.
When using Skype, ensure you wait your turn to speak, as there is usually a slight lag on some Skype calls. To help the conversation flow smoothly, wait a little longer than you usually would before you speak otherwise this can lead to awkward moments as each person tries to speak over the other. Additionally, instincts are to look directly at the person speaking, but rather you need to look at the camera, as this will position you as being more engaged and attentive with the speaker.
When digitally communicating in the workplace, you want to ensure you're utilizing your interpersonal skills and putting your best (digital) foot forward when conversing with colleagues as for how you approach communicating via email, text messages, and Skype calls varies. To see what character traits make for the best managers, visit our blog.