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More Fairness Principle Ideas for Clearer Communication

I wanted to add a few thoughts to the Leadership Gift Fairness Principle I introduced in my previous post.

Here are additional ideas for more successful communication between team members that are in the office and team members that phone in during conference calls.

Some research suggests that we use gestures as mental anchors for words rather than as nonverbal communication as traditionally thought (to check out this intent, watch someone on the phone explaining something to someone else and see if they gesture!).

So, perhaps we must gesture in order to speak, and sitting on our hands is not the best answer to a successful teleconference. Yet during a telephone conference, make sure to talk directly to the phone and speak in a loud and clear voice, making sure you are not just relying on gestures to convey your message to team members that are participating on the phone.

More Virtual Leadership Gift Ideas for Better Communication:

1. Rotate conference call times to accommodate time zones. I’ve heard of international teams where the people from one country successfully justify why the people from the other country should always get out of bed in the middle of the night for a teleconference. Fairness would dictate that this meeting time be rotated to share that burden.

2. Virtual rituals. Since shared rituals bond people together, design and institute effective virtual rituals that aid in group communication. For instance, design your teleconference format around a series of rituals. One could be a “Check-In” ritual where every attendee gets 15 seconds to announce what he or she is clearing from their mind in order to be mentally present. Another important ritual might be a polling system to quickly find out
where people side on a proposal without going into lobbying, attacking, or defending views.

3. Headline email and voice mail. When messaging someone, use the first few seconds of their attention to let them know exactly what they will get in this message and what you want them to do with it. Think of this as writing a newspaper headline. In an email,
you can stick it on the top line before the salutation, or in the subject like this: “Requested Action: Please evaluate and respond Yes or No by Friday.” In voice mail, you can open with a headline such as “this is a head’s up.”

4. CC less people. It’s tempting to copy everybody on everything, and many do, to the chagrin of others. Next time you start adding addresses and entire distribution lists in the CC field, ask yourself if people are going to silently thank you or frown as they hit delete.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

During your next virtual team meeting, ask: “What virtual rituals can we design to aid our team’s communication?”

What are your favorite fairness tips for communication?

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

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3 Responses to More Fairness Principle Ideas for Clearer Communication

  1. Sean Kiner says:

    Webcams are great tools to help bridge the gaps. These days they’re amazingly affordable to easy to implement!

  2. Great points here. Sean, I like your comment about webcams.

    I’m thinking about long distance relationships and distributed teams as a result of this. Relationships, behaviors, and communications are the point of everything. Policies, processes, business culture, legislature, and a host of other considerations are put atop this foundation; not before.

    When building trust in relationships, we don’t build them just on the spoken word. I personally feel this ‘word’ is primitive and with our speech patterns and subjective labeling of complex ideas it becomes very ineffective. In the early stages of relationship building, the gestures, facial expressions, and non-verbal communications play vital roles in our trusting over time.

    When on a conference call, I acknowledge that we are communicating on “one sense” platforms. Clarity in vocabulary and intention are paramount to avoid assumptions by observers and participants. The premise is that confusion is likely in these conversations because we must rely on one sense and are predisposed to inference over real observation and participation.

    I would add to this post a call to action for the remote sites. “Engage”. While we can only truly modify ourselves; send invitations, request engagement, establish agreements, and prepare ahead of time, it’s up to US to make this relationship work. Let us know if we aren’t providing what you need amidst our own efforts to do so.

    • christopher says:

      Nicely put Scotty: “Relationships, behaviors, and communications are the point of everything. Policies, processes, business culture, legislature, and a host of other considerations are put atop this foundation; not before.”

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