Developing Cross-Cultural Relationships Over Technology
During a time when the internet has transformed the way we communicate, we see that lots of things can be lost in translation through technology. It is important to note that some means of effective communication can vary by the background and culture of the receiver. It is crucial to effectively communicate using the proper platforms.
The Telephone Contact
A telephone call provides a quick and inexpensive method of communicating with stakeholders. The telephone has some additional limitations. A person cannot see facial expressions, gestures, or posture, and therefore, must rely totally on the sound of our voice and the words we use. Plan in advance what you will say. It helps to use a written presentation plan as a guide during the first few seconds of the conversation. What you say is determined by the objectives stated at the beginning. An advantage of a telephone call is the option to take notes during a call without coming across rude or disrespectful. Be sure to reiterate what the other person has said to confirm you are on the same page and demonstrate you were actively listening.
The growing popularity of voice mail presents a challenge for business people. Many people are very busy, and will only return an unknown number if they know the call was important enough to leave a voicemail. It is important to anticipate voicemail and know exactly what to say if you reach a recording. The receiver’s perception of you is strongly based on what you say and voice quality. Provide a compelling reason for the person to call back and offer a valid item that would stimulate interest. The voice mail message should be similar to the opening statement you would make if you had a face-to-face contact with the prospect. Lastly, give your number slowly and completely. It’s usually best to repeat the number.
Many prospects and established customers like the convenience of email correspondence and prefer it as an alternative to telephone contact. But note that some people, or generation, find that an e-mail is far less personal and professional than a phone call. Be sure to know your audience before choosing a means of communications. When using email, your challenges is to make it easy for your correspondents to read and handle your e-mail. People who receive large amounts of e-mail may selectively choose which to read by scanning the subject lines and deleting those of no interest. Always use a meaningful, specific subject line. The e-mail message should clearly tell the reader what you want and then encourage a response. Identify the main point of your e-mail within the first or second paragraphs. Format the e-mail so it’s easy to read. This may require the use of headings to identify main elements of the memo. Finally, a use of a signature file- a typical file includes full name, title, affiliation, phone number, and in some cases a slogan.
The Conference Call
Conference calls can be boring, and difficult to follow but a necessary part of business. When many people participate in a call, it is easy for our minds to wander. Keep your statements short and ask for direct feedback frequently, rather than asking an open question to the whole group. It is also helpful to send out an agenda ahead of time and stick to it so everyone knows the purpose of the call, approximately how long it will last, and what they are expected to prepare before the call. Some company’s record calls for a variety of reasons, if you are on a call with people from other companies, make sure you let them know you are recording the call. Lastly, set limits on call duration. This is even more important than setting time limits for face-to-face meetings since the amount of energy lost in a call exceeds that of meetings. The lack of feedback is a huge energy zapper. Limit calls to reasonable lengths so everyone knows what to expect.