Communication is vital to networking and building relationships. It is how information is shared and thus vital to every social interaction. Locking eyes with another person can be a powerful thing. You somehow know something about them, instantly. Perhaps that is what digital communication is most lacking in. The intuitive sense of ‘knowing’ someone that causes you to trust and understand them without a single word being exchanged. Now, all we have are words sometimes.
Only 7% of communication is chalked up to the words we use. The other aspects, such as eye contact, body language and context are much more important, but they are mostly absent from digital communication. Is the reader eating, driving, shopping or even listening to music on the porch while reading your email or text off of their phone? You don’t know, you can’t know. This is why the words, the dark patterns printed on a white screen, are so vitally important.
It is a skill, just like face-to-face communication is a skill, to construct a message taking tone, diction and perspective into account when typing on a keyboard. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when starting out.
No, I don’t mean the type that will cost you time and money to proofread every email and text you send out. Get an online editor plug-in to quickly and quietly, in the background, underline anything that seems suspicious. Spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar can become a thing of the past. I suggest Grammarly to make your online communication a dash more professional.
When you are speaking, you hear your words repeated back to you instantly and you are able to quickly fix mistakes. Even Freudian Slips are easily hidden under the veil of a stumbling tongue. Digital communication is not that easy. Quickly skim over important messages before you hit send. Typos are hidden everywhere.
About to deliver some difficult news via email? Check the tone to determine whether this is, after all, effective communication. Read it to yourself at a quick pace (to mimic anger) or at a slow pace (to mimic compassion and calm). Does it sound good in one tone of voice and not in the other? Tone is important when speaking face-to-face, but when only words are present the reader determines the tone. How will he/she read what you have written? Perhaps you should change a few words to sound less harsh or sterner? This is always difficult, but a few quick diction alterations can completely change the tone of a piece.
So many means of communication and so many methods of misinterpretation.
When reading a message also take into account that the sender might not have followed the above-mentioned tips or was in a hurry. Their message may have been unclear. If you are truly lost in translation, there is nothing a face-to-face can’t fix. In the end, nothing beats looking another beast in the eye.