Are you a fan of the 1980’s movie Back to the Future? You know, the one where Marty McFly is flung back in time and has to make sure his to-be parent’s get together so he can successfully return to his present? Well, believe it or not, this classic film is an excellent metaphor for improving the quality of virtual communication in today’s workplace. Truly!
As we all know, building and sustaining strong relationships is essential in any professional environment. When there is a healthy rapport in place, we know what to expect – we have context. Unfortunately, in many virtual environments, it is more common to feel perplexed and frustrated than it is to feel valued or understood. So, what gives? How do we take the mystery out of effective virtual communication?
The answer is simple: we need to travel back in time – in a plutonium-powered DeLorean, perhaps – and understand how communication works when technology is not involved. Once we have a firm grasp of the basics needed to build a strong relationship (mutual respect, concern for others, and active curiosity to name a few) we can then start to think about how to adapt our communication behavior to newer technologies.
Take conference calls, for example. Research has shown that the average conference call length could be cut by 30 percent if the participants did two things – paid attention and listened! A trip back to the basics of strong communication will help us all move into the future with our relationships intact and our businesses thriving.
The next time you’re on a conference call, travel back-to-the-basics and reverse engineer healthy and productive virtual communication.