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Having open, honest dialogue has always been critical for businesses. Now, more than ever, we are in unprecedented times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With stay at home orders, the economy struggling, and many business leaders making very hard decisions, having honest discussions is more important than ever.
On top of that, in the last couple of weeks, many companies have moved to remote working, which brings a whole host of other challenges.
Virtual teams lack the benefits of body language and other cues, which makes it more difficult for people to decipher the meaning and sincerity of each other’s words and actions. They don’t have the water cooler conversations and other casual office discussions that help build rapport, trust and relationships.
Remote working also causes employees to rely much more heavily on email, texting, and instant messaging to communicate, which are easier to misinterpret than in-person or video calls.
For remote workers, the lack of face time or in-person time with their co-workers presents fewer opportunities to raise concerns and issues with one another. It becomes easier to let conflict build. It also becomes easier to triangulate — complain about a problem to others instead of going directly to the person with whom you have the issue.
Without direct input from the other person, we tend to make up stories about what motivated their behavior and act as if our stories are a sacred truth.
At Fierce, we call all of these various situations Conversation Chaos — that endless cycle of ineffective conversations that depress morale, feed uncertainty, and sap productivity. And it turns out that this chaos gets amplified in a remote-work world.
Our Founder & CEO, Susan Scott, and I just launched an orange paper titled: Conversation Chaos in the Digital Age: Why Feedback is the Key to Successful Remote Working. In this paper, we talk about why curiosity — ultimately in the form of feedback — helps create a healthy culture, and how a Fierce client used virtual training to create a healthy dialogue for their teams. We also share some tips you can immediately use.