Once upon a time, when many of us worked in offices, a potential misunderstanding at work might be mitigated with a “pop in” visit. But there are certain things about digital communication that may not be so easily adjustable, and one of those things, experts say, is how we communicate with our bosses.
According to Mollie West Duffy, a co-author of No Hard Feelings, which looks at how emotions affect our work lives, “We know through research that we’re much more likely to read into a lack of emotion in digital communication as being negative, because we’re missing all the context cues,” she said. So if your boss says, “We need to chat tomorrow,” without elaboration, you might well assume there’s trouble on the horizon.
Though dodging that ominous chat might be tempting, it’s best to meet the moment straight on—though not a bad idea to try to carve out some space and time when you are unlikely to be interrupted by school-aged children or the family dog. And, whether the topic raised is negative or positive, remember that you have the obligation to consciously share what you want and need. According to Duffy, “directness is often the best way to get what you need from your manager, and being proactive and naming an issue rather than hoping it will go away on its own can help give you agency in improving a bad situation.”
How has your relationship with your boss altered during the pandemic, and what have you done to improve it? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
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