We’re in approximately week 5 of working remotely for many and it is likely working better for some than for others. As the leader, you may be wondering how you can better manage your relationships with the people on your team while working remotely.
There are two critical considerations that contribute significantly to improving relationships and engagement. The first, is that we don’t all have the same communication style; and, the second is that we aren’t all driven/motivated by the same things.
In this article, we’ll start by sharing three tips to help you improve your communication with the people on your team when working remotely.
It’s not a one-size fits all!
We all have our own communication preferences and style. Some of us have a higher energy level and some don’t. Some of us tend to gain our energy from social interactions while others may find that draining.
The key point to remember is that people like people like themselves. Ever hear of birds of a feather? And no, opposites don’t naturally attract.
First you have to understand your own communication style. Are you forceful, decisive, strong-willed or do you tend to be low-key, mild and a collaborator? Are you a person who is magnetic, enthusiastic, demonstrative or are you more restrained, controlled, non-animated and more reserved?
Perhaps you are the person that tends to be more patient, steady and relaxed or are you more active, flexible, and fat-moving? Lastly, maybe you tend to be more dependent, neat, careful and always have lots of research on a topic or maybe you’re more uninhibited and unconventional. You may say that you have a variety of these traits and that may be so, but each of us has a primary communication style that most people see most of the time.
So what happens when you are communicating with someone that is the opposite of your style? Might the other person sometimes tune out? Do you sometimes tune out when someone is speaking that is quite different from you? If you’re more of that direct communicator and I’m the opposite, do I drive you nuts when I come in with pages of data and absolutely need you to understand every single point I’ve uncovered? Likely. After all, didn’t you ask me to give you the key highlights? How’s that communication working out?
Remember, people buy from people they like and people like people like themselves.
Learn to People Read
People reading isn’t as difficult as it may sound. With a bit of background knowledge you can start people reading anywhere anytime. One of the keys to people reading is not talking but rather observing. When we’re talking, we’re not listening.
What verbal and non-verbal cues is the person giving you? Perhaps you’ve just finished yet another team zoom meeting. Granted it’s more challenging to pick up on non-verbal cues on virtual calls but you know your team so you should be able to pick up on clues. Do they appear drained after calls or are they leaving wanting more? It’s often more important to observe body language and what is not being said than to what is being said.
Learn to Flex…your style that is!
When I talk about flexing your style in communication workshops, people sometimes ask me if that isn’t manipulation. It’s only manipulation if the intent is not honourable. The #1 thing you can do to improve communication with anyone is to meet them where they are.
Flexing your style is the art of adapting your style to match the style of the person you are communicating with. It helps create that symbiotic cadence. If the other person is more reflective, has a lower tone of voice and a slower pace in speaking than is normal for you, try flexing your style to mirror those behaviours. It will take a lot of conscious effort and practice to get good at it but you will start to see the benefits before too long.
It’s as easy as 1…2…3
Your people aren’t all one size thus your approach can’t be a one-size fits all either. Take the time to connect with each member of your team one-on-one for the purpose of listening. Start with an observation using self-responsible language or with an open-ended question…and then listen and observe.
As you become better at the super skill of people reading, you and your team will reap the rewards of improved communication, relationships and engagement.