Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
There was an article recently on Fast Company titled “A surprising skill you may need to brush up on as you return to the office”. While I’m not sure the skill was surprising (communication), I do think it could be a surprise to some individuals that they might need to brush up on it. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t been communicating during the pandemic.
Communicating in-person might be different. And even the best communicators should spend some time thinking about their in-person communications.
Choosing the right medium. Think about all the communication mediums available to us – texting, email, video calls, and in-person. When we work remotely like during the pandemic, in-person communications aren’t necessarily an option. As we start to spend time in the office and travel more, the opportunity to use in-person communications increases. This means we need to remember those instances when it is best to communicate in-person because the expectation will be that we can.
Getting comfortable around people. If you’ve been working remotely and sheltering at home, it’s possible that you haven’t had much in-person contact with others. Just being in the same room with people could be a little stressful. It could make some sense to spend time thinking about how it will feel to be in an office, meeting, or conference with groups. Also think about how you want to destress after a full day interacting with people.
Small talk matters. At some point, we’re going to spend less time talking about COVID-19 and Delta variant statistics and more time about the television shows we’re watching and where we’re traveling to next. Those moments of small talk matter. It helps us connect with others. We might discover that a colleague hired during the pandemic is also a Ted Lasso fan.
Body language matters. When we’re on a video call, we don’t always see a participant’s body language. Sure, we could see their facial expressions but sometimes those are on delay (depending on your internet coverage) so it’s hard to get a real time reaction. During an in-person communication, we can see the reaction of others right away and need to be prepared to process it. Possibly even respond to it.
Have a personal debrief. Regular HR Bartender readers know I’m a big fan of debriefs. A simple two question debrief can help us improve our communications. After a big meeting or one-on-one, ask yourself 1) What went well during that interaction? 2) What could I do differently next time? Make a mental note of your answers and use it for the next time. This type of personal debrief might be something you want to do for a while just to improve your communication skills.
The Fast Company article that I mentioned at the beginning of this article reminded me that we need to think about how our communications are going to be impacted in the weeks and months to come. Organizations are making and changing plans when it comes to welcoming employees into the office. This means we need to be very flexible with our communications. Not only what we say, but how we say it.
Image capture by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Salt Lake City, UT15