You are taking part in an online meeting all you see is a black screen with a grey icon. Not very personal, but: virtual work can be very personal and even avoid conflicts!
According to Schulz von Thun’s four-ears model, a statement consists of four different messages, regardless of whether the sender is consciously or unconsciously communicating them. Thus, misunderstandings can arise – not only online, but also in a personal conversation. According to findings of the Allensbach Institute, 81% of communication is conveyed by other factors than the spoken word itself: 55% of communication is conveyed by facial expressions and gestures and 26% by the tone of the voice. When communicating online these 81% are missing and misinterpretations are more likely. The better you know your conversation partner, the easier it is to interpret their messages correctly and thus maintain a positive working relationship.
HOW IT’S DONE
Take the time as a team and choose a communication tool that works best for all of you. The quality of communication differs between chats, over-the-phone conversation and video conferencing and will lead to different outcomes in the work processes and also in the mood of the team. You can start with setting a friendly profile picture. Work your way up to a colored profile picture with a personal status, or even interact via video chat – depending on the willingness of the team members.
Try to find a balanced consensus within the team – not every member is able and willing to use any tool. They might not even know how to use different functions. Communication is key here as well. Make sure that all members are involved and show them that virtual work goes beyond email and chat messages. Always lead with good example – (e.g. make sure your own webcam is always on).