Published: 14 May 2020

Dr Doris Dippold shares insights into working remotely and the issues of miscommunication

Dr Doris Dippold, our Senior Lecturer in Intercultural Communication, shares her insights into working remotely and the issues of miscommunication, which will feature as a new theme on the MA in Intercultural Business Communication and Marketing course.

Credit: Grant Pritchard/University of Surrey
Student using computer

Communication is crucial within business, as it helps to foster a good working relationship between staff, which can improve morale and efficiency. It is also vital to communicate successfully in negotiations to ensure businesses achieve their goals. In today’s climate, with a large percentage of the UK’s population working from home due to Covid-19, Dr Dippold explores how we can communicate effectively through digital platforms.

What communication are we missing out on by going digital?

Dr Dippold: “When we have face-to-face conversations, we rely on a range of cues – we can see can when somebody frowns, and we can see their body language. When people get bored, we can hear their tone of voice, or we can tell when somebody wants to speak because they do subtle movements. When you work remotely, it’s much more difficult to catch those physical cues - on video conferencing platforms it’s often difficult to see every participant at once as the images are small.”

Does this different, online communication work?

Dr Dippold: “It does work, and I’ve had a few weeks of experience doing it now, but it’s a medium that people have to learn to communicate through.”

What are your tips for communicating effectively?

Dr Dippold: “Try to minimise distractions where you can and ask clarification questions. We can also use a range of strategies to ensure that our own meaning is conveyed, for example:

  • Using the chat function on your video conferencing tool to send an emoticon, which can mitigate against not getting all the social cues.
  • Writing can also be a very useful medium in some cases because it might enhance clarity that you can’t usually put forward when speaking.
  • Really think about what communication channel is most appropriate for the purpose in that specific moment.”

Discover our MA Intercultural Business Communication and Marketing course and join Dr Dippold’s free online 4 week course on Communicating with Diverse Audiences.

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