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Negotiating new realities of workplace communication

Negotiating new realities of workplace communication

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Swati Rai

Much has been written, read and forgotten about the impact of the global pandemic on the workplace dynamics. While the palpable rise of technological intervention has had a marked influence on bringing the world closer for convenient communication. As more and more organisations become flat in hierarchical structures, with channels of reporting becoming less and less rigid, communication follows suit too- both in medium, mode and manner. But, with a zillion options available to employees to exchange information now, is there another side to this technology enabled fast paced communication?

 Are there any parameters for developing these behaviours of communication appropriacy and relevance? Has the need for a greater awareness of different registers while using technology to communicate successfully become urgent and require mulling over, if not impart training on? There are some key aspects of this development to using these successfully. Here are a few thumb rules.

 Get hands on with new technology

 Any organisation is a healthy mix of Boomers and Millennials comprising the workforce, with varying levels of comfort with tech-enabled communication; and with their varying degrees of formality, appropriacy, contextual use, criticality in conveying a message and relevance. It is, therefore, imperative that everyone’s comfort with virtual interaction modes of communication is catered for. For Millennials and Gen X, digital natives first and nomads later, negotiating technology is a piece of cake. From virtual meetings on Webex, Webcasts for announcements in the company, training over Skype, comfort with an AI bot responding to one’s queries, one-line mails, long, text-lingo updates, MS Meets conferences, all their home turf. Of course, no hard and fast rule of age determining the ease in the use of technology, however, it could be one of the benchmarks while conducting such a survey in one’s organistaion to get a more informed data. This is a good start to platforming digital ways of communication, across the board, that are proliferating, as I type.

 Same Difference?

 Modes of communication and needs are morphing into each other, according to organisational needs and changes. Therefore, a regular video conference could be a formal meeting, a Skype call can be a training session and a mail could only be monosyllabic. The content of all perhaps might be the same, but a miniscule change or difference in meaning could help decide the appropriacy of one mode over the other. The key to effective usage of the plethora of options available to communicate via technology is to understand the slight difference in their nuanced usage to convey appropriate meaning, while respecting the company protocols. Another aspect of successfully utilising the features of tech-enabled communication, is a change in the attitude of perceived ‘formality’ in communication that was a bastion of rigid hierarchical professional realities of the yore.  Expecting a longwinded mail with excessively polite salutations for what can easily be a one-line text message, would be, yes, going overboard in times as these. However, dropping a line on Web messenger to one’s boss on planned leave reminder is still a strict no-no. The need is to discern between the difference in the mode of usage and adapt.

 Whatever happened to face-to-face communication?

 A fact that the good old, in-person meeting was on the shrink much before a global disease mandated curtailment of such interactions. Cutting down on manpower in teams, organisations and remote working opportunities, has further brought down the rate of face to face meets.

Added to this is the constant deadline chasing, resulting in a forever paucity of time and the ease of doing business across time zones without even having met once!

There is, however, space for such briefings, client interactions depending on the cost effectiveness, criticality and context.

Safe to say that all interfaces of interactions are here to stay but now largely speaking, personal touch is increasingly conveyed through the written and spoken word. In such a scenario, non-verbal communication relies heavily on the tone of the voice- a much neglected area of human interaction.

Cutting the fat out of communication, and delineating the wheat from the chaff, thereby focusing on the crucial content only will thankfully, never become outdated!

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