3 Guiding Principles For Successful Team Communication

1. Keep your team informed of your availability.

Slack, my favorite app for team communication, allows administrators to set five default “Suggested statuses” for their team.

The five I’ve come to love are:

slack default status

(Note the icon color—a subtle indication of the speed at which you can expect a response.)

You can also set your visibility (on Slack) to “Active” or “Away” indicating you’re either online or offline, respectively.

When none of the above statuses are appropriate, you can either select your own custom status, or just clear your status and set yourself to away.

By keeping your team informed of your status and encouraging them to take note of it, you will reduce interruptions (i.e. sounds, desktop/push notifications, etc.) during the time when you need to remain focused on the task (or lunch) in front of you. Keeping your team informed also helps build rapport among your colleagues and mutual respect for personal and professional boundaries.

2. Write as if your recipient is someone whom you admire and respect.

People read and interpret words differently.

For example, a simple phrase like “I don’t know” can be read (by your recipient) as:

  • excited
  • dismissive
  • curious
  • inquisitive
  • angry
  • playful
  • sarcastic

Consider how you yourself interpret/read emails and instant messages from colleagues. As an exercise, read the next email you receive with different tones of voice (above) and compare how misconstrued the message can become when you read it differently.

Non-audible communication lacks tone and inflection, so your reader has to rely on context and what they know about you—the author.

If the recipient doesn’t know you well, is unfamiliar with your personality, or they’re simply having a bad day they may misinterpret your meaning.

The best way to avoid miscommunications? Be uncomfortably nice—always. When people realize your kindness is genuine and sincere, they’ll read your writing accordingly.

Secondly, measure twice and cut once—proofread everything you send and when in doubt, less is more.

Pro tip: Use emojis (sparingly) to help convey tone, emotion, and context! 👍

Similarly, read as if the author of the message is someone whom you admire and respect.

3. Maintain your composure and treat everyone—from the bottom to the top—with respect.

For businesses, good customer service is the most cost-effective form of marketing.

In other words, treating your customers with respect and kindness will encourage them to refer their friends, family, colleagues, etc. (word-of-mouth marketing). WOM works better than any other form of marketing and it’s free.

For professionals, good personal customer service—how you treat other people—is a sure way to secure a successful future.

Plus, being nice costs you nothing.

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