We’ve been working on a project with a client for the last 6 months. The challenge of the project was not so much the technical aspect of the work, but understanding the needs of the client. We were working via email and phone conference calls with the client.

The problem was that it was difficult to get a clear decision from the client. Especially with email, the delay between the questionn and the answer made communications difficult. When we were on the phone, we were also missing an important part of communications: non-verbal.

We were stalled.

We decided to invite the client to our offices. With all of us sitting at the same table, we were able to reach an agreement  as to what needed to be done and how we were going to do it. It was easy to reach the agreement because we were able to communicate more efficiently. Being face to face gives us all the information that someone transmits: the verbal AND the non-verbal.

Virtual meetings are not as rich

It’s easy to give the wrong impression in a virtual meeting such as a webmeeting or a phone conference. For example, someone’s sarcasm can be interpreted more negatively than it really is if we don’t see her smile when she makes the comment. We have to remember, in these situations, to check with the person who’s projecting a negative image if that is really her intent.  The other side of the situation is also true: someone can interpret our comments wrongly because they are not getting the whole message.

It’s up to us to remember the limitations of the virtual world.