When interacting with colleagues who work remotely, even the simplest gesture can be misinterpreted in the absence of the usual visual cues.
Here are three ways to make sure you’re understood when you’re not face-to-face:
• Picture your colleague.
When emailing or calling him, try to imagine your coworker at his desk listening to you. This visualization will increase your empathy and improve your chances of clearly saying what you mean.
• Spell things out.
Don’t just say, “Circle back with me,” for example. Be clear about follow up. Do you expect a phone call or an email? When?
• Respond promptly.
When you don’t reply right away to an email or voicemail, you leave the person wondering whether you value the relationship or not. Answer quickly, even just to say you’ll send a more complete answer later.
Adapted from “How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication” by Keith Ferrazzi.