Feeling awkward reading between the lines in non-face-to-face communication
It has been almost a year since we entered the “untact” era. Non-face-to-face communication with clients and the use of video conferencing have become commonplace. As unfamiliar as it was to adapt to the new way at first, we have also grown accustomed to it. However, sudden changes are always accompanied by unexpected side effects. At first, we were so busy adapting to the new norm that there was no time to stop and think about it, but now we are noticing something strange and awkward from reading between the lines in the era of non-face-to-face communication. These feelings are often so subtle and intangible that it’s hard to tell whether the problem is in you or in the other person.
There was of course non-face-to-face communication through phone calls and text messages before. However, if there were any misunderstandings, we could say, “let's meet and talk,” and properly resolve the issue. Face-to-face meetings were an easy way to solve problems that can arise from not seeing the other person’s facial expression or hear their tone of voice. Now, however, it has become difficult to do that.
Learning the environment and consideration for non-face-to-face communication
As we use video conferencing more frequently now than ever before, does anything else feel different, besides the fact that we are talking to each other from afar? First of all, one-way communication makes one feel a subtle sense of strangeness and disconnection. One may get bored a little more easily or feel anxious about whether the other person is actually following what you are saying. The voice through machines is not always clear, sometimes causing fatigue. The accumulation of these little things gradually tires us out.
How about using group text messages or messenger? No matter how cute and funny emoticons are, they are not capable of accurately representing emotions that facial expressions and voices do. Hence, it is easy to cross the line or misunderstand each other. Moreover, you may find yourself holding back more than usual when you want to point something out, because you are afraid that it might cause misunderstandings. Some people speak very differently from how they write, too. It can come across as if you’re angry when you only say the things that are necessary, while it can become tiresome if you say too much.
Therefore, it would be wise to recognize characteristics of video conferencing and messenger and equip yourself with a manner that is more considerate of others. So let's list some of the “untact” business manners and etiquette to practice toward each other, as if communicating with your customers.