Digital Work Communication Styles: Which one is yours?

Navigating communication was challenging in an office setting, but the online landscape presents entirely new hurdles. It’s not just team interactions that pose difficulties; managers grapple with understanding everyone’s unique work communication styles to optimise workflow efficiency.

Virtual communication can be mysterious

We all have a few tools at our disposal when communicating online that include:

  • The language we use
  • Our profile picture
  • Emojis

That’s quite limited, isn’t it? And with the exception of what we actually write, the other two either don’t say much or can be ambiguous.
For example, when a certain team member puts a smiley face beside every statement, does it mean they are really happy? Is the coworker that never uses emojis in a positive or negative mood?
Communication may have been difficult in the office, but the challenges online are on an entirely new level. And it’s not just how team members interact that’s difficult – managers are in a constant battle trying to figure out how everyone communicates so that workflows can be organized as efficiently as possible.

What are the 7 communication styles?

The 7 communication styles reflect the very different ways employees, colleagues or clients may communicate with you. Here are some common styles of communication that we’ve seen pop up in the last year. What you see on your workflow tool may be different, so it helps to take it all into context when communicating with members of our team.

1. The Excited Emoji User

The Excited Emoji User goes beyond the standard “thumbs up” and “smiley face” emojis. This person is quite expressive and makes full use of emojis to communicate how they feel about any given issue – whether it’s the party emoji when a project is going well or a moody sad face when they are having difficulties. 

Those replies may communicate something, but you may want more detail – like what time the project will be completed or if they are having technical difficulties. So when in doubt, try tagging the Excited Emoji User after a post or sending a private message to ask for more detailed feedback. That way, miscommunication can be prevented and you know exactly how they feel about a certain issue.

2. The Constant Collaborator

The Constant Collaborator needs to touch base on just about everything that goes on with the team. This person may have been the type of person in the office that popped their head over the cubicle to see how you’re doing several times a day. They love sharing ideas, and you can see it from the multiple messages they post on your workflow tool throughout the day.

Constant Collaborators may be a bit intrusive, but they are often the idea engine in the group. Rather than ignore them completely it’s a good idea to respond to their posts – maybe not every time, but at least a couple of times per day.

3. The Ghoster

The Ghoster is sometimes there, and sometimes not. They can disappear for hours or even days at a time. In many cases, this type of person is engrossed in their work and doesn’t require much input from other people on the team. 

Working with the Ghoster can be unnerving for some people because they don’t know their status on collaborative projects. In those cases, it is a good idea to tag them in a post and ask them for an update or mandate daily/weekly check-ins.

4. The Essay Enthusiast

As the name implies, many messages from the Essay Enthusiast read like long essays. Often they will drop a link or document into a post with several long paragraphs asking for multiple points of feedback.

Essay Enthusiasts are excellent people to have on the team because they are thorough in what they do. The challenge in dealing with them is not so much their communication style, but the tool they are using to collaborate with the team. A better option could be having a video conference or using email to discuss the issues being brought up.

5. The Over-Zealous Organizer

The Over-Zealous Organizer is always scheduling meetings, creating new channels to discuss projects, and reminding everyone in multiple messages about what’s coming up and what projects are due.
Sometimes the Over-Zealous Organizer can be a bit overbearing, however the decentralized nature of the digital workplace requires more organization than ever before. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to let them do their thing!

6. The Meme Magician

The Meme Magician makes gratuitous use of memes to communicate ideas. Similar to the Excited Emoji User, the Meme Magician uses memes to express several ideas in a minimal way.

Memes can be funny, but their meanings can often be misconstrued. If there is ever a point of confusion, it helps to tag them after a post to ask for clarification. 

7. The Always-Online

The Always-Online sends messages at all times of the day. You may think the Always-Online is “always online” but that doesn’t mean they’re always working.

Part of the beauty of the digital workplace is flexibility. Some people are most productive in the early morning, others do their best work after midnight. Don’t feel pressure to respond to the Always-Online if you happen to check your workflow tool after-hours. Just make sure that you make it clear to everyone what hours you are available so the rest of the group can manage their expectations.

Mastering online communication takes work – but it’s worth it!

There are more people working online than ever before. To excel in this environment, it’s essential to navigate the 7 communication styles effectively. That means it will take some work to master digital communication, but the benefits are worth it once we figure out everyone’s unique work communication styles.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to delegate as much of our work to digital tools as possible. Cool Company is a completely digital solution that gives you freedom from communication issues with accountants and tax professionals. All you have to do is track your assignments, submit timesheets, and get paid! Ready to learn more?