Remote working has quickly become the norm in much of the corporate world. With so many professionals used to face-to-face interaction, this move to digital messaging has quickly and profoundly changed how workplace communication works.
With increasing opportunities for misunderstandings in written texts, potential overuse of gifs and emojis and a completely different dynamic than communication in the office, professionals have to adapt to the new digital workplace, whether on Slack or similar communication platforms.
Here, eight experts from the Young Entrepreneur Council give tips on how individuals can communicate effectively and professionally on these platforms and explain why they are so important for a productive workplace.
Young Entrepreneur Council members offer advice on effectively communicating about Slack in the workplace.
Photos courtesy of each member.
1. Adapt to the preferences of your target audience
Know your audience. Different people and personalities have different needs in terms of the length of time spent on personal connections, the amount of information they want to share, and how much feedback they need to perform. Most people assume that the person on the other side of the screen has the same needs as them and is confused or disappointed when the other person doesn’t meet them on the same level. Managers especially often assume that something is wrong with their quieter or more introspective team members, who may be perfectly engaged and happy and yet not show it the way the manager expects. – Rob Toomey, Type Coach, LLC
2. Don’t make assumptions
As an individual, I am in favor of two things. First, don’t read messages and adopt inflection, intonation, or intent. Writing styles can vary, and it is a self-destructive process to conclude that someone is running out with you. If you think you are being approached with a negative attitude, ask immediately if something is wrong or someone is bothering you. Second, and on the other side of this coin, you should be very clear about what you mean. Know that people may misinterpret what you are saying if it is inconclusive. So do what you can to make your intention clear in your messages. Asynchronous communication is extremely valuable, but it can be dehumanizing. Over-correct to make sure the mood behind your messages is getting right across. – Colin Darretta, Innovation Department
3. Always give the context
A short “Do you have five minutes?” is often the most dreaded thing a boss can write to an employee. Include a context like “Do you have five minutes to contract for Client X?” On. The person on the other hand now has a sense of urgency and importance for your note, which is often not included in communication platforms like Slack. – Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications
4. Follow a company style guide
Online communication tools like Slack require clear writing. One of the best ways for your office to make its own writing clearer and more productive is to introduce a corporate style guide. Style guides ensure consistent communication between the channels and minimize misunderstandings between the departments. Take some time to create a style guide for your home that fits your business and office culture. You don’t need to focus only on grammar and usage rules, but on best practices of professional communication related to your office. Focus on goals like tone and voice, how to communicate with less positive and negative language samples, and what deserves an answer. The point of a style guide is to improve communication. So be specific with your guidelines, but never choke on yourself. – Jordan Conrad, writing explains
5. Write clearly and in a message
Avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon. Excessive use of these looks unprofessional and requires the other person to understand, which is usually not the case. People have different backgrounds in terms of age, culture and education. Not only is it disrespectful but also dangerous to accept anything. Also, try sending your point in one message instead of sending multiple messages in one sentence. Splitting your point into multiple messages can be confusing, especially if the conversation is on a multi-person channel. Between your messages there may be messages from other people that could cause misunderstandings. Try summarizing your entire point in one message and rereading it before hitting the send button. This minimizes misunderstandings and misspelled words. – Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc.
6. Only share essential information
To chat professionally and effectively on Slack, less is more. Only share important information in communication so as not to pollute conversations. Be clear. Be direct. Be polite. If you don’t understand something a coworker shares, ask for clarity or in a language like, “If I read this correctly, ask for XYZ. Is that right? “- Antonio Neves, spokesperson and author of career success
7. Create channels for business and socialization
Create specific channels to meet your team’s needs. We have channels that are used solely for business purposes, such as: E.g. meeting customer requirements, setting deadlines, discussing next steps, etc. The tone for these channels is more business-like and to the point. We also have other channels like “Random” or “Current Listening To” where we can discuss current events, favorite podcasts or music etc. in conversation. Casual communication between offices is an important part of creating a positive company culture and shouldn’t be dismissed while working remotely. I’ve found that it has helped our team members maintain our team loyalty when they have the opportunity and the space to do so. – Leila Lewis, be inspired PR
8. Be respectful of group chats
Develop an understanding with coworkers and know when it is best to have a personal direct message rather than a group chat that everyone can see. I see group chats being flooded with individual issues that distract the group. Either a manager or a group chat founder can set boundaries and communication protocols at the beginning of the chat, or implement them if the chat gets out of hand too often. In-office communication is completely different, but Slack communication should put much-needed importance on actually saying what you mean. Very valuable lessons can be learned in communication by having to write exactly what you mean without emotion or manipulation. For us it was an emerging moment as a company. – Matthew Capala, alphabetically