Communication as an Apprentice

General Communication

Effective communication is critical to team success for several reasons. It can facilitate better collaboration, engender new ideas, eliminate redundant work processes, improve client relationships, and create positive working environments. Especially in a remote environment, how you communicate can be as important to your performance as the quality of your deliverables.

πŸ—žοΈ Here are some great resources to help you learn more about and practice good communication skills.

The Pyramid Principle (How to "lead with the answer")

10 Ways Remote Workers Can Improve Communication Skills

The 7 C's of Business Communication

With Team Members

Within your team, set expectations for communication early and review them often. When in doubt, overcommunicate- meaning that while you should try to reduce the noise of constant or unnecessary communications when possible, it is better to have too much information than too little in a team environment. Here are a few principles that may help you communicate with team members:

  • Make your communications concise, complete, and kind.

  • If a problem arises and it will take longer than a minute or two to fix, let your team members know before you start working on it.

  • Keep personal and work-related conversations (or work conversations on different topics) separate so important information does not get lost in the noise.

  • When you are asked to do something by someone else, restate your understanding of the assignment to reduce misaligned expectations.

  • If you are not available during your normal working hours, let your team know when you'll be available to respond to their communications.

  • Read over emails and instant messages to catch errors and eliminate unnecessary words before sending.

  • When you are unsure if the tone of a message is rude or otherwise negative, always assume good faith unless explicitly communicated otherwise. Similarly, if you are tempted to respond to something with anger, wait a minute or two to calm down and determine if your response would be productive.

  • Address conflicts as early as possible, and ask a third party to facilitate if you are unsure that the conflict can be resolved with civility and mutual respect. Remember: strong teams don’t avoid conflict, they embrace differences, compromise when necessary, and maturely resolve conflicts.

<aside> πŸ’­ See Diversity and Inclusion for our community's guidelines on avoiding or reporting harassment.


With Clients

Once again, establish team norms early and review them often. Work with your team before client meetings to determine what information is most important to communicate and who will be the primary point of contact with which client team members. Never undermine, reprimand or gossip about a team member in front of a client. It is important to present as a united front, both to foster trust with the client team and to strengthen team bonds.

In client meetings, when a question is asked or concern brought up, ensure that it is written down and addressed explicitly in the next meeting. When presenting a deliverable to the client, lead with your "answer" first, then back it up with your supporting data (see "The Pyramid Principle" article linked above for more information).

Do not share confidential client information with anyone outside of the team. Be careful not to speak negatively about your client with others, especially in public areas or social mediaβ€” you never know who could be listening.

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