March feels like ions ago. After five months of groundhog-day-levels of rinse and repeat, it’s time to refocus on the last quarter of the year. And if we’re checking in on what our goals are, we’ve also got to examine how we’ll get them done.
At the risk of stating the obvious, communication is a big piece of that strategy. Maybe bigger than we realize.
If you’re like me and you still find yourself physically separated from your team, students or clients, you’re facing a disruption that’s challenging the connections we once took for granted.
Here are 5 tips on what to do to keep your communication effective and relationships strong:
Invest in your relationships.
- Create space to talk, listen, and laugh. You may feel like you’re “wasting time” to get things done—especially when concentrated work time feels scarce. But, our relationships are the WiFi signal that connects us. Low connection will slow that progress toward your project no matter how hard you work.
Refocus your purpose.
- Remind yourself why you do what you do, and remind your team why they exists. Purpose is an anchor. It keeps you focused and grounded. Goals might shift, plans might get reshaped, but if you are clear on “Your Why” (to borrow from Simon Sinek), you’ll be clear on what needs to be done.
Develop language that describes the new normal.
- We’ve crafted routines in our offices, classrooms, and boardrooms. Those routines are gone. In all this uncertainty, clarity—about how to reach you, when you’re working, what platforms to use, and what deadlines are being moved—will help alleviate some nascent anxiety in you and those with whom you communicate.
Celebrate wins. Mourn losses.
- There’s been a lot of loss lately. And that’s real. None of that—loss of contact, loss of sales, loss of routine, loss of life—deserves minimizing. In the face of loss, celebration isn’t a coping mechanisms or escape, but the key to keeping people (a team, a class, your clients) together. Don’t pretend the losses aren’t there, just look to affirm the good work still happening around you. Express gratitude for, and through, the means of communication you do have.
- You don’t know what others are carrying. You don’t know what home is like for them or what worries are occupying their mind. Whenever possible, work to look at your work, your assignments, your communication from the perspective of the person on the other screen. Be generous. Extend grace. Ask questions. And remember: your empathy is only as effective as the person you extend
And know that whatever you do, you’re communicating. In times of crisis, leaders step up. They speak directly and empathetically, and clearly. Your team is listening. What message do you want them to hear?