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Holding Challenging Conversations-remotely


Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions for advice to delegates on 'Holding Challenging Conversations' who manage their staff remotely/virtually (ie main vehicles of communication are teleconferences, occasional videoconferences). The usual advice on watching body language, for example, is redundant in this situation!

Many thanks.

3 Responses

  1. Not remotely then …
    I would suggest then that the conversation is held face to face – unless we’re talking about people being managed across countries. If the subject matter is deemed to be such that extra care is required, personally, I wouldn’t do it remotely. Any thoughts from other community members?

  2. Mehrabian Theory


    I would make reference to the work of Albert Mehrabian, he has a useful theory that you can use / adapt to highlight the difference between communicating face to face and communicating when the "look part" is missing. In this sort of example it is incredibly useful for the delegates to understand the impact "the look"  has in communication so that they can then understand how their approach needs to adapt when this element is missing.




  3. Discipline required.

     I see three types of remote communication:

    Synchronous conferencing: – use a good tool like Adobe Connect Pro as you can share documents – Skype is getting better.  With the video facility you do get a lot of the body language.  It does need more discipline than face-to-face meetings as the number increase.  I’m afraid that I’m often skeptical of these ‘body language’ issues.  I often attend face-to-face meetings which are dreadful.  Poor agendas, people waffling (And waving their arms) and very liitle agreement on action items.  Run your online meeting like you run a good face to face meeting.  HAve a good agenda.  All contributions should come through the chair (hands up to speak).  Keep contributions relevant (more work for the chairperson).  Focus towards actions and agree on them (easy to take a vote).  

    Asynchronous discussion:  Use a threaded discussion tool (Not email – in education we use something like Moodle virtual learning environment).  All discussions should have an objective and a ‘chairperson’ who keeps the focussed towards taking a decision on an action.

    Web-based Project management:  I have not really found a good tool for this.  When I do, I think most of my remote collaboration problems will be solved.  Off the top of my head here are my specifications for such a tool:
    Along with the normal onlineproject management software features it should have:
    – specified people get automated emails on current or outstanding tasks showing the taks name in the title of the email.
    – specified persons can reply to such emails with updates on status of tasks (ie. they don’t have to login)

    We’re not quite there yet but we will soon be.


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