Communication is powerful — and that’s a good thing.
But it also means that messing it up can wreak havoc on your business.
Nothing stalls or derails a team like an interpersonal conflict borne out of poor communication.
That’s why more and more leaders are learning how to be collaborative communicators. They can protect their company from their own missteps and guide others in avoiding pitfalls.
In this article, we’ll cover what collaborative communication means and the principles and challenges associated with it — especially in remote and hybrid environments. Lastly, we’ll give you the how-to skills to become better at collaborative communication.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
Collaborative communication means actively engaging and sharing information with others while working with them on collective goals.
At its core, it involves three essential practices:
So, in this communication style, team members build upon each other’s thoughts and ideas to reach shared objectives.
Think about a collaborative brainstorming session. Team members come together virtually to generate innovative ideas. They engage in a free-flowing exchange of thoughts and bounce ideas off one another.
They then build upon each other’s suggestions to create something greater than they could have individually achieved.
That’s collaborative communication in a nutshell. It lets everyone feel valued and heard in a supportive environment that encourages a wealth of perspectives.
To communicate in this way, you need the following three prerequisites:
It also involves the effective use of virtual collaboration tools and platforms that facilitate collaboration through information sharing and real-time feedback.
Collaborative communication is an essential skill of effective teamwork. In this section, we’ll cover why it matters. Namely, we’ll discuss the two primary benefits that make it so important.
It’s called productivity paranoia.
As Seth Patton of Microsoft says,
Instead of worrying if their employees are working enough, leaders need to create clarity around what work is most important—and listen to what their employees need to make the biggest impact.
That’s what collaborative communication does. It reduces misunderstandings and develops mutual awareness. It opens teams up to collectively determine the best way to tackle projects and tasks and clears channels of feedback to ensure processes become streamlined.
This means your team can stay at their most productive no matter where they’re located.
And here are some glorious collaboration examples.
But it’s still important to find places and spaces for team members to strengthen relationships and build trust.
This may require more intention in work environments where physical interactions are few. But there are solutions. And collaborative communication is one of them.
Collaborative communication allows for:
That type of work environment, virtual or not, means more common ground and trust in your coworkers.
Collaborative communicators drive a team’s momentum forward.
They take the lead in:
For example, they might schedule regular virtual check-ins to make sure everyone on the team stays connected and engaged.
Collaborative communicators embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected. They draw on different perspectives to spur innovative solutions.
For example, they may encourage their team members to share their cultural experiences and insights during virtual meetings.
Maintaining digital etiquette and a professional demeanor is essential in virtual interactions.
Collaborative communicators communicate with:
For example, they use proper grammar and a polite tone. They avoid using jargon or slang that might confuse or exclude team members.
Collaborative communicators value input from their team members and encourage diverse perspectives to drive effective problem-solving.
They create an environment where everyone’s ideas are heard, and they build upon each other’s suggestions to reach innovative solutions.
For example, they might facilitate virtual brainstorming sessions where everyone can freely contribute ideas and collaborate. This is an essential collaborative leadership skill.
Collaborative communicators adapt to changing circumstances and challenges in hybrid and remote work environments.
This means accommodating the following:
They find creative ways to ensure effective communication and collaboration across diverse teams.
For example, they might establish asynchronous communication channels to accommodate different work schedules.
Building trust is crucial for collaborative communicators.
They create a supportive environment where open and honest communication nurtures trust. When conflicts inevitably arise, they address them constructively — and with a win-win mentality. They recognize their team’s individual contributions and help each person feel seen.
For example, they might organize virtual team-building activities or establish regular one-on-one check-ins to strengthen their relationships with their team members.
Being a collaborative communicator in a hybrid work environment comes with unique challenges. Let’s explore each one and give you some strategies to overcome them.
In hybrid work, the lack of face-to-face communication limits opportunities for personal connections and a deeper understanding among team members.
It’s harder to truly get to know each other and to build rapport and trust with your team.
To overcome this challenge: Collaborative communicators can schedule virtual team-building activities. They can encourage informal interactions through dedicated channels and foster a supportive virtual environment that promotes open communication and relationship-building.
Another proven tip is to promote in-person collaboration. The best way to do this is by using a hybrid work software that has collaborative scheduling features. OfficeRnD Hybrid is such software.
Read more about it here.
Virtual interactions, while a great substitute, aren’t the same as in-person communication.
The absence of body language and nonverbal cues can hinder effective understanding and lead to misinterpretations. Relying solely on written or verbal communication may require additional effort to ensure clarity and accurately convey emotions.
To overcome this challenge: Collaborative communicators can use video conferencing for face-to-face interactions or incorporate visual aids or gestures into presentations. Lastly, they can model active listening through verbal confirmation or by asking clarifying questions.
Coordinating across different time zones and accommodating flexible schedules can make synchronous collaboration difficult.
Logistical challenges include the following:
To overcome this challenge: Collaborative communicators can use free conference room scheduling software, or asynchronous communication methods, such as shared project management tools and collaborative documents.
That way, everyone will have access to information and can contribute at their own pace. Setting clear expectations regarding response times and availability — along with using shared calendars — can facilitate effective coordination.
Relying on technology introduces the risk of glitches, system problems, and connectivity issues.
And new tools and platforms may require a learning curve, whether for employees who are new to hybrid work or those who are switching to a new program.
To overcome this challenge: Collaborative communicators can provide training or resources to make sure your team is proficient with any company technology. It’s also a good idea to set up backup communications and promptly troubleshoot or seek assistance when technical issues arise.
Being a collaborative communicator is essential for effective teamwork in hybrid and remote workplaces. In this section, we’ll cover some practical strategies to enhance your collaborative communication skills.
Active listening is a key component of collaborative communication — and it goes beyond simply hearing what others say.
During video calls or virtual meetings, make a conscious effort to maintain “eye contact” by looking directly at the camera. That will help convey engagement and show that you’re focused on the conversation.
Additionally, active verbal and non-verbal cues, like smiling and nodding, will indicate that you understand what the speaker is saying. It might also help them relax and open up.
Another aspect of active listening that can’t be overstated is empathy. That means putting yourself in the speaker’s shoes. Try to understand where they’re coming from, and show interest by summarizing their key points back to them when they’re finished.
Doing these things will help create an atmosphere for collaborative back-and-forths.
Strive for clarity by using plain language when conveying information or ideas. Avoid unnecessary jargon. Consider the context of what you want to say, and tailor your message accordingly.
For instance, if you need to present complex information, break it down into simpler terms. Use examples or analogies that can help bring the info to life.
Visual aids and graphics are other great ways to convey information without losing your audience, and bullet points and numbered lists can help make your points easier to digest.
There are four different business communication styles. As a communicator, you should be able to recognize and adapt to them.
Some team members may prefer written communication, while others may thrive in verbal discussions. Understand their preferences, and adjust your approach to match.
This adaptation is important, as 72% of business leaders believe that effective communication has increased their team’s productivity. And 52% of knowledge workers agree.
So, when working with introverts, provide opportunities for them to reflect thoughtfully and offer written input, as this will allow them to express their ideas in a way that feels comfortable to them.
And with extroverts, encourage lively discussions and brainstorming sessions to tap into their energy and harness their creative input.
When you adapt your communication style to your team’s needs, you create an environment that encourages active participation from everyone.
Collaboration happens when your team is comfortable sharing their ideas and perspectives. Proactively seeking input from your team enables a culture of open and honest communication.
To do this, organize virtual meetings or create dedicated communication channels specifically for collaboration and idea-sharing. These platforms provide opportunities for team members to actively engage, contribute their expertise, and collectively solve problems.
Emphasize the value of each person’s contribution, and celebrate your achievements as a team. When you promote a collaborative culture, you also do the following:
Collaborative communication can be a game-changer.
It helps establish an environment that employees love to work in — which is ideal for not just employee satisfaction but team productivity as well.
Just remember: in addition to communication, you need the right tools to succeed.
OfficeRnD Hybrid is a powerful, all-in-one hybrid software. It takes care of visual desk booking, conference room scheduling, meeting room booking, visitor management system, and more.
And its set of powerful collaborative scheduling features make in-person collaboration a breeze.
Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid, no credit card required, no strings attached.
An example of collaborative communication would be team members using project management tools together. They could update task statuses, assign responsibilities, and provide timely feedback to ensure smooth progress and coordination.
Effective listening, clear communication, and the ability to work cooperatively with others toward shared goals characterize strong collaboration skills.
The best communication style in collaboration is one that’s adaptable and caters to the needs of the individuals and the situation — whether it’s written, verbal, or a combination of both.
Three important skills in collaboration are active listening, effective communication, and the ability to work well in a team.
A collaborative communication model is a theory that explains how speaking and understanding work in conversation, specifically how people in conversation coordinate to determine definite references. It is a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more persons to achieve common goals.
Yes, collaboration is a communication skill. Collaboration involves working with others to achieve a common goal, and effective communication is essential to that process.
To build collaborative communication, there are several strategies that can be employed. These include:
1. Designate a single source of truth for all documents, knowledge, and conversation.
2. Set clear goals and expectations for the team.
3. Encourage open and honest communication.
4. Foster a culture of trust and respect.
5. Use technology tools to facilitate collaboration, such as project management software and video conferencing.
6. Establish regular check-ins and meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
7. Celebrate successes and learn from failures together.
8. Provide opportunities for team building and relationship building.
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