Tech Tips from IT Staff – Communication Challenges

What’s In A Word? by Kathy Boock, Tech Support Center Analyst

Have you had the unfortunate experience of a colleague misinterpreting the context to your email or text message? Clear communication is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face when we aren’t working face to face.

A disadvantage of communicating through either email or text message is that it can’t capture the all-important non-verbal cues of in-person communication. Things like voice inflection, facial expressions and body language significantly affect how someone understands a message’s meaning. A one-word reply may seem annoyed or angry. Humor may be misunderstood or even offensive. A lengthy message may seem rambling and pointless.

Here are some best practice suggestions to keep communication effective even at a distance.

  1. Determine the best method of communication for the message – Anything complex that might require further explanation should be handled with an email or a phone call.
  2. Be Concise if it takes you more than 30 seconds to type it, an email or phone call may be more appropriate.
  3. Remain Professional – save the cute or funny emojis for your personal texts only.
  4. Be Clear – Use texts for information that has little room for misinterpretation. Avoid attempts at humor or wit – without a lot of context, your message could get lost in translation.

Keeping these few things in mind may save you from unintended misunderstandings and keep professional relationships positive.

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