Two studies were conducted in 1967 and the results merged to communicate a result that was not fully accurate (Mehrabian & Wiener, 1967 and Mehrabian & Ferris, 1967). Nevertheless it has proven useful in teaching people how to communicate, especially in sales and politics. The result communicated: the effectiveness of communication relies 7% on the words used, 38% on the tonality of the voice, and 55% on body language. The ultimate irony is that this results of studies on communication were – MISCOMMUNICATED!
You may be home for another week of indefinite productivity and achievement while able to communicate withfew people face-to-face. I have worked remotely in different ways for 20 years and I have a few suggestions that I hope help.
- Do not allow yourself to become an overly isloated hermit! For some introverts this situation may feel like heaven and yet strong, healthy relationships are needed on personal and professional/school levels. In times of crisis or stress this is even more true. Without being a pest, touch base with as many people as possible each day. Not only do you need this but they may as well, especially if they live by themselves. A quick text, email or call with positive information or a mildly inspiring message can change the momentum of your day and theirs.
- If body language and vocal tone are important, what should you do about it? I recommend escalating how directly you communicate beyond what most people would consider “normal”. Why? Texts and emails are frequent sources of miscommunication. Emails can become long – too long to read in fact. Text only if you must. Usually texts are critical when there are quickly developing situations and that may still hold. Emails are effective when a few sentences. In both cases, reread what you have typed an extra time to be sure your communicating will be recieved accurately. The studies cited above may not have been accurate but tonality and body language is vital. If an email drones on, scrap it and make a quick phone call. Better yet, reach out via a web conferencing app like Zoom. Many conferencing tools are offering free use while the COVAD situation continues.
- Be crisp. A mentor once recommended the book “Revising Prose” by Richard A. Lanham. I have never been captivated by English or Writing classes but this was the most practical book I have read on how to be crisp and concise. I strongly recommend it. The book is available for free at The Internet Archive. Simple guidance is provided in a humorous and easily read format and will help portray your ideas the way you want them portrayed.
Communicating may be the most difficult skill to apply when working or schooling remotely. To recap, touch base with many people daily, lean heavily on phone calls and video conferencing, and if you are using text and email, be crisp. Whatever the percentages, body language and vocal tone are exceptionally important. Excellent communicators understand that using a “pause” or “pregnant pause” may take the place of whole sentences but the timed silence does not come through in written words. What are other pro tips that work well for you? What situations present challenges when communicating remotely? Let me know in the comments section even though they will be minus body language and vocal tone! As always, be well and be healthy! If you need a smile, please enjoy the video below.