Have you been despairing over a colleague’s sudden switch from friendly in person, to brusque in email? You might even be wondering what you’ve done to deserve their sudden rudeness.
If so, it might help you to know that there’s an actual phenomenon for online abruptness: known as the online disinhibition effect.
Communicating online lowers our inhibitions in many ways, causing us to say things in writing – or on a screen – that we may not say face-to-face.
Additionally, some online environments mean others will find it hard to gauge your body language or tone, which means your comments could be interpreted in different ways to those you intended.
With hybrid and flexible working increasing the need for digital communication, now is a good time for organisations to review the ways in which their employees interact online.
This will not only ensure that everybody can be both heard and understood, but streamlines the process of digital communication, so that information can be properly collated and shared organisation-wide.
Here are some starting suggestions.
Provide a ‘one stop shop’ communication platform for different uses, i.e. idea-sharing, formal meetings, and uploading documents. This will reduce the risk of vital information getting lost in the noise.
Develop an online communication policy that sets out clear guidelines about how to interact using digital tools, and reminds employees to be mindful of misinterpretation online.
Suggest employees turn off digital notifications so they don’t feel bombarded with constant messages, or feel obliged to respond during breaks and downtime.
Offer training on your chosen communication platform(s), with example scenarios of positive ways for employees to interact.
If you have any questions about reviewing your organisation’s communication policies, or would like expert guidance on a wide range of employment issues, please contact our friendly team at Viridian HR.