- Discuss the importance of staying connected with colleagues and other professionals in the digital age
We live in a technological world, where teams of people can be collaborating and communicating from their respective offices, or even their couches and dining room tables, three thousand miles away from each other. And when you’re working from your couch, without the opportunity to chat at the coffee machine or meet up for lunch, you’re losing the opportunity to connect meaningfully with other people who have the same business interests, who can provide you with a set of amazing resources to help you succeed, and who look for your input and expertise to help them achieve their own goals.
Staying connected to people is more than just being able to do your job, it’s about staying relevant and impactful and maintaining influence in your sphere—which can be hard to do from your dining room table. But conventional communication tools and approaches have been upended in favor of cutting edge digital alternatives that connect co-workers in these new and challenging circumstances. Let’s look at some of these tools used to stay digitally connected with coworkers and other colleagues. We’ll measure the methods of communication they aid and how well they facilitate the social communication model.
- Document and work sharing tools: Sharepoint and OneNote, both Microsoft products, are examples of tools that help you share work documents and collaborate on projects. Sharepoint allows you the ability to build a webpage for your department, house important and frequently used documents, and post basic, one-sided messages that are usually directly related to the content. OneNote performs a similar function but is more project oriented. The platform allows you to upload pictures and web links, create lists and to dos, and more. Neither of these projects allows for conversation, and they aren’t meant to stand on their own as communication tools. In fact, because they’re offered by Microsoft, usually other programs (like email) are integrated into them.
- Private messaging and “chat” tools: Private messaging and instant communication tools, like texting, require that the message be written. These tools allow for good, albeit sometimes slow, communication. The linear portion of communication (speaker–encoding–message–decoding–recipient) is easily facilitated in this method of communication, and “feedback” can be given, but “noise” is a frequent saboteur and not always easily identified. Why? Because non-verbal communication isn’t present, tone of voice is not easily communicated, written messages can be misinterpreted as aggressive, angry and rude when they’re not meant to be. Collaborative tools like Slack include a chat component into their platforms, but offer additional components that make communication more effective.
- Video communication tools: Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, are examples of video communication tools that allow you to connect with people visually as well as aurally. Whether it’s by chat room or simply dialing someone else with an account, you can have a decent conversation with coworkers as if they were in the room with you. The benefits are easy to see—not only is there the ability for verbal and listening communication, but nonverbal communication is apparent as well. Where a disembodied voice might agree to a decision, a video conference participant might send the non-verbal signal that she is not happy with the ending result. The visual bonus allows for heightened feedback in the social communication model, and the ability to clarify when noise exists.
You can communicate more effectively when you understand the strengths and pitfalls of these digital communication tools. Tools that facilitate multiple types of communication (verbal, listening, non-verbal) and allow the completion of the social communication model’s circuit are more likely to aid you in getting your message across to your audience.