#WFH: Do You Communicate with Confidence?

Most communication in the virtual environment is one to one communication or me to you (M2Y). This is how it feels anyway. Knowledge is shared and there is a feeling that nothing is absolute. Reality is something that is constantly being negotiated and renegotiated. The virtual environment demands a certain kind of openness and trust. It is more informal and demands more collaboration and discussion. It is clear that one of the important elements for success in the virtual workplace is getting people to collaborate and cooperate, which means that communicating clearly and openly to build strong interpersonal relationships is a skill that virtual managers need to acquire. We participate in discussions with coworkers we really don’t know and share thoughts and ideas we used to keep to ourselves. It also requires people to self-monitor and self-regulate, which are skills that many people have never learned. But more than just collaboration, the virtual workplace requires cooperation and reliance. The communication is flatter and more evenly distributed. Cooperation supports higher achievement than competition or individualism (Bell & Koslowski, 2002).

But how to do it? Many people have never learned the art of communication. We are challenged in the virtual workplace to communicate effectively. How do we make conversation in an environment where we are disconnected? Where we are often communicating with strangers? The skills and confidence to strike up a conversation can be lacking. Research suggest that lack of conversation confidence and skills is one of the biggest roadblocks to affective virtual communication. Of all the skills necessary to be a successful leader in the virtual environment, communication and conversation skills are some of the most helpful. Understanding that there is a need for interaction and that listening as well as question and answer exchange taking is far more effective than either one alone. Being able to recognize some basic virtual communication tenants and employ a simple technique known as FROG will go a long way to towards building communication confidence and strong relationships (Pepe, 2013).

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