Getting Your Point Across: 4 Steps to Effective Virtual Communications

In some form or fashion, working virtually is the reality for most of us today. And whether you’re working with colleagues, customers, vendors or others, there are more tools and apps than ever to help you collaborate across town, across the country or across the globe.

But no matter how many tools and devices you have, effective collaboration still comes down to how effectively the parties communicate with each other. Particularly when you don’t have the advantage of visual cues, tone of voice or cultural nuances, the chances for miscommunication are high.

Here are 4 steps for making sure your communications get across in the way you intended, no matter what technology you use (or even if you’re communicating in person!):

1. Give them the context: You develop your communications with a specific frame of reference in mind, but your audience doesn’t necessarily have the same mindset going in. This is one of the reasons why email and other brief written communications can be so prone to misunderstanding. The context isn’t there, so the receiver feels like it’s coming out of the blue or misinterprets your intention.

Preempt the problem by letting them know upfront what’s going on, why you’re communicating and what the big picture is. This is important to clarify both for yourself (before you communicate) and for your listener.

2. Give them the agenda: Everyone’s juggling multiple priorities. We all have very full plates. Especially when you’re working with dispersed team members who may not have much daily interaction, rambling messages or confusing requests can feel frustrating, intrusive and disrespectful of people’s time.

Don’t just wing it. Give people a high-level agenda or plan that sets expectations about what you’re trying to accomplish in a way that’s appropriate for the format or communication vehicle.

3. Give them the what: Of course, the facts and data—the what—are important, but oftentimes, the tendency is to jump right in to the content. If you haven’t set up the context and expectations, people may misinterpret what you’re saying, have trouble following your train of thought or simply tune out.

Dive into the content after doing those first two steps, and people will understand the data within the framing you desire. This will help you deliver it in a much more effective way while giving your listener the critical information they need.

4. Give them a way to engage: Stories and interaction are what allow people to quickly make connections with what you’re talking about—and that means what you’re communicating is more likely to stick with them.

We do this naturally in our heads, trying to make connections to what it is we’re hearing, so if you can facilitate that process through relevant stories, you’ll find you’ll get much better impact and people will really understand what you mean. Do this throughout your communications, and whenever possible, make it a two-way interaction so people feel involved and that their participation matters.

Because these steps hit all of the quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model, no matter how diverse the thinking preferences of your audience, you’ll be able to “speak the language” of their thinking to make sure your communication gets across—whether it’s across the phone, across email, across Skype or across the room—in the way you intended.

Try them out in your next virtual meeting or in the next team communications you send out to see how it works!



Meet Your Customers Where They Think

One of the traps of our technology-enabled, overloaded world is that we often default to a one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with others. When you’re expected to “do more with less” and shift your priorities and attentions on a dime, template-izing repeated tasks or common responses seems like a good way to shortcut the process.

But does it really?

The truth is, one size typically only fits a very few. So what usually ends up happening is that you spend more time trying to “be heard” and get your point across. When the people you’re interacting with are external customers, it may even put you at risk of damaging the relationship or losing the business.

In a recent Loyalty Management Magazine article, How to Think Like Your Customer (And Why It Matters), Ann Herrmann-Nehdi explains why “thinking like your customer” can make all the difference by allowing you to quickly focus your attention where it matters and communicate with the greatest impact.

The article describes four different kinds of customers you might encounter, how their thinking preferences will impact their behaviors and interests, and tips for adapting your thinking to improve your success. (Note: Free registration is required to access the article.)

For more quick tips on this topic, check out Ann’s video lesson for AthenaOnline’s MyQuickCoach Series, “Connecting with the Customer.”

Podcast Explores Whole Brain® Thinking Applications to Project Management

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In a recent interview posted on the Guerrilla Project Management blog, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi shared insights on how the Whole Brain® system can be used to improve project management processes and outcomes.

The Guerilla Project Management blog explores topics related to the mindset Project Managers must adopt to be able to effectively manage today’s complex projects.

In a lively conversation with blogger and Certified Project Management Professional Samad Aidane, Ann explains that projects often fail not because of lack of effective project management processes, tools, and techniques but rather because of the quality of thinking that gets in the way of applying them on our projects.

She discusses how Whole Brain® Thinking can help project managers and their teams better understand and leverage their preferred thinking styles to reduce conflict and misunderstandings, accelerate project timelines, and get better results. She also explores the results a Danish municipality, Slagelse Municipality, has achieved by incorporating the Whole Brain® system into its project management approaches.

Listen to the podcast:

Herrmann’s Whole Brain® Thinking Model for Project Management

High-Performing Employees Are Leaving

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Are Your Managers Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

The latest survey from Right Management reveals that three out of four organizations lost high-performing employees they did not want to lose during the past year.

 Good people will find good opportunities, even in a slow job market. The question is, what’s making them leave?

While many factors can come into play, study after study shows that one of the main reasons people leave a job is their boss. If your managers aren’t able to communicate effectively and build connections with employees, they’re helping push those top performers out the door. 

 A few questions to consider:

  • What are you doing to avoid being part of the 75% of companies that have lost top talent in the past year?
  • How are you taking care of your top people?
  • Do your managers communicate effectively with each of their direct reports? Do they have the tools and skills to engage employees in a meaningful way?
  • How are you equipping people to be better leaders and managers?

A number of leading organizations are using the Whole Brain® system to give managers an easy-to-apply, practical framework for understanding what different employees pay attention to and how they prefer to think and approach their work. Whole Brain® Thinking skills not only help managers better communicate with their employees, but they also ensure the organization is fully capitalizing on the potential of high performers.

And when top talent is engaged and able to contribute, they’re more likely to stick around than take up the next offer from the competition.

Check out our case studies to see how organizations like Cirque du Soleil, IBM, Integ and Cookie Time are making it work for them.