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communication skills

During these uncertain times when our world is changing by the minute, we are learning new things on the fly, and we aren’t really sure from one day to the next what’s coming, we are getting tired. We are starting to feel the effects of all this change and this uncertainty, and it is exhausting. Pandemic fatigue, zoom fatigue, burnout, call it what you will and it’s very real.

It has been six months since the start of the “work from home” era and over that time it has become the new normal for many employees. Video conferencing is used for work, school, family get togethers and social happy hours and apparently “you’re on mute” is the most used phrase of 2020. Interpersonal conflict at work is on the rise and in more ways than one, our communication skills are being put to the test.

Getting communication right can be hard at the best of times, so today, in the midst of a pandemic and all that it brings, it can take some additional focus for your communication to be heard in the way you intended.

Here are 4 tips for communicating during uncertain times.

1. Assume Positive Intent. Ever got an email that sent you over edge and made your blood boil? It can be easy when we are fatigued to be triggered into a defensive or angry response. If, however, we stop and re-read the email while assuming the sender had positive intent – that they really just wanted to help, to support – when they sent it, you will feel your temperature drop and a rational and measured response will be easier to craft.

2. Clear is Kind. Quoting Dr. Brené Brown, “Clear is Kind and Unclear is Unkind.” As we all navigate the choppy waters of uncertainty, clarity in your communications becomes even more important. Clarity grounds us and it gives direction. It supports us and it creates accountability. It makes the difference between communication and miscommunication.

3. Over-communicate. When we are in a constant state of stress, of learning, of uncertainty, our ability to retain information suffers. When you have something important to say (not your everyday things but the really important stuff), say it more than once and say it in more than one way. Communicate to everyone on the video conference call at the start of the week, send an email with important details mid-way through the week and remind people again at the end of the week. When you feel like a broken record, you might have said it enough!

4. Be transparent. If there are times when your communication skills fail you and things don’t go as planned, admit it. Acknowledge that you could have handled it differently, apologise, and try again. Situations where miscommunication is at fault can spiral out of control very quickly. Nip that spiral in the bud with another conversation and change the outcome.

Your Engaged HR Assignment:  Spend some time over the coming week focusing on your communication. Were you assuming positive intent when you read that email? Have you been clear when setting expectations with a team member? Have you communicated the same information in more than one way? Did you apologise for that time that you got it wrong? We’ve all been there!

If you are looking to up your communications game, check out our Art of People Management workshop happening in October. Communication skills are a big focus!

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