With work going remote, communicating with your team has become more important than ever.
However, virtual communication isn’t the same as in-person communication because many nuances like body language, tone, and real-time signals are lost.
It’s easier for participants to remain silent due to the mute button and the difficulty of multiple people speaking at once. But what I find alarming is how people assume silence implies assent when it should be the other way around.
This misguided thinking sets a dangerous precedent because:
- only the loud ones are heard,
- the team misses its chance to air out concerns,
- the team fails to engage in constructive conflict.
But you might say, “What if you give people a chance to speak before making the final decision?” Wouldn’t that be enough?
It wouldn’t be because:
- team members may be afraid to rock the boat (especially if no one else is speaking up),
- quiet, shy, or introverted individuals have a hard time voicing their opinions (unless they’re called on),
- people generally default to the easier option, which is to not speak.
As a result, to improve communication regarding consensus, one should always:
- take silence as disagreement and
- confirm with each member if he or she commits to the decision.
The cost of this requirement is the time and effort to make decisions will increase, but the benefit of this process is the quality, involvement, and commitment to decisions will improve. Plus, your team will be happier.