We commit to many things every day: appointments, tasks, people, exercise….commitment is an everyday occurrence. If we break our commitment it reflects badly on us and our business. What if we made a commitment to communicate effectively? What if communication became a priority instead of something we take for granted?
When you are working with a Virtual Assistant or any remote employee, you have 2 types of communication that will work; verbal and written. You need to decide between you and your assistant what type of communication works best for both of you, make adjustments along the way when needed, and then commit to that process.
Find your best form of communication
Verbal. If you communicate best verbally and have the time to set aside to commit to a daily or weekly call, you should make this clear from the start. Expectations are one thing; reality is another. You may think this is what you want and then realize you don’t have the time. Make adjustments and find what works, but don’t break your commitment.
Written. Can you express your thoughts better through writing? Set up a chat session through an instant messenger program and set for a certain time each day or week. Communicate through text messages or email, whatever system works best for you and your assistant. There may be a little trial and error in the beginning, but every relationship has to start somewhere.
Communicate clearly from the start, early and often. Mind reading and crystal balls do not exist…really. Once a relationship has formed and your habits & expectations are learned is when an assistant can attempt to see your next step (sometimes before you do). But until that glorious moment, don’t assume. Keep all lines of communication open on both ends for questions and answers.
Have no fear. Sound funny? You’d be surprised how many people don’t say what they want to for fear of sounding unknowing, or not wanting to insult someone with what they have to say. You don’t have to be brash to get your point across. You can still say what you need to say firmly but kindly.
The key is to not be afraid to ask questions, whether you’re the client or the Virtual Assistant. If you don’t understand why a task took so long, then you need to ask. There’s probably a good reason, but you won’t know until you ask the question. If you don’t understand the task given to you, don’t spend an hour googling it to try and understand; that’s a waste of everyone’s time. Ask questions when in doubt, and offer clear, concise answers.
Be clear. Don’t send mixed messages, this is both unclear and confusing. We all have an innate desire for people to like us, that’s important when working with someone. But you can still be likable and be clear. If you don’t want something done one way, it’s important to make that known. If you’re unhappy with the way someone handled a situation or task, make it known right away. Don’t think “I can let this slide”, or “mistakes happen”. Mistakes do happen to everyone, but they also need to be brought to that person’s attention so it doesn’t happen again.
Listen. Take the time to listen to what someone is saying. This is so important on both sides of a relationship. Many times if the person doesn’t come out and say what might be wrong, you can hear it through their message to you; verbally or written. If you keep pushing your questions or problems under the rug, that pile becomes a mountain and eventually explodes. Address the tone upfront to avoid any pitfalls down the road.
Communication is the key ingredient to every relationship inside or outside of the office, but it is a necessity in a virtual setting. Every day millions of people either communicate poorly or not at all. It’s not something that’s hard or complicated, but it is something that is important and should not be taken for granted. If you make a commitment to practice good communication, it will become a habit, and making communication a priority in your everyday life will make your life easier…period.
Laura is the Founder of Elite Virtual Assistants.