Week 1: Communicating With Peers

MOOC - University of California, Irvine - Communication in the 21st Century WorkplaceWeek 1: Communicating With Peers

“Introduction…Communicating With Peers Part 1…Communicating With Peers Part 2…Book Chat: Working Effectively with Virtual Teams..1.4 Tips for Effective Virtual Meetings…”


  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Communicating With Peers Part 1
  • 1.2 Communicating With Peers Part 2
  • 1.3 Book Chat: Working Effectively with Virtual Teams
  • 1.4 Tips for Effective Virtual Meetings


  • In this course, the videos, readings, and assignments will help you build new approaches and techniques for effective communication in today’s workplace.
  • As you know, communication can come at us from multiple directions in the workplace, and we have many opportunities to communicate with others on a daily basis.
  • By knowing your audience, you can then use a more specific and customized approach, which will increase the chance that your communication will be successfully received.
  • In this course, you will have a chance to explore and add techniques to your toolbox to help you polish your communication.
  • We’ll be looking at communication through the lens of four different audiences typically found in the workplace

1.1 Communicating With Peers Part 1

  • Whether your job is similar or different than these, communication can help you increase your effectiveness on the job and improve your performance, which can then translate to more sales, improve customer service, or a higher quality product, depending on the type of work that you do.
  • What’s the first thing you did when you arrived at work? Did it involve communication? What did you do next? Did it involve communication? Play out your day in your mind and see if you can identify the various ways in which you communicated.
  • How many ways of communication did you identify and how do you know if you’re good at it? In the four modules of this course, we’re going to consider two types of communication, verbal and nonverbal.
  • Nonverbal communication includes body language, specifically gestures and facial expressions and can also include nonverbal aspects of verbal communications such as the tone, pitch of your voice, and the speed in which you’re speaking.
  • Internal communication refers to communication that takes place within the confines of your organization, regardless of geography.
  • External communication refers to communication which takes place with anyone outside of your organization who’s not an employee.
  • The last type of communication we’ll consider is in-person communication, live with another person real time, or virtual communication, which takes place using technology, either live or delayed.
  • Did you identify all the different ways in which you communicated yesterday? Now how do you know if you communicated effectively? In today’s assignment, you’ll have a chance to complete an assessment of your communications skills, so you’ll know exactly what areas to focus on.

1.2 Communicating With Peers Part 2

  • In today’s session, we’ll be taking a look at some specific techniques to use when communicating with peers.
  • Communicating with your peers may be one of the most frequent ways in which you interact at work.
  • In your reading you saw that in communication there’s a sender and a receiver of a message.
  • So it follows that effective communication is about others as well.
  • I’m going to give you some techniques to communicate with your peers verbally, non-verbally, internally, and virtually.
  • When communicating verbally with your peers one-on-one, consider your audience, how well do you know this peer? What do they most appreciate in a working relationship? Do they talk a lot, or do they prefer to keep things brief? If you’re communicating verbally with a peer who you do not know very well, take your cues from their communication.
  • If you already know this peer pretty well build upon what you know about them and extend the verbal communication by finding out additional things about them and their business needs by asking questions.
  • So the best way to approach verbal communication in a group is to invite others to actively dialogue with you in a participative way.
  • Go a long way to connecting and enhancing the effectiveness of the communication.
  • Verbal communication often goes hand in hand with non-verbal communication.
  • When communicating one on one or in a group of peers, the receiver of a message will be observing your non-verbal communication simultaneously.
  • Your non-verbal communication will serve as an additional data point to inform them of your message.
  • Use your body to highlight and emphasize your message in a way that indicates willingness for two-way communication, like, opening your arms, turning towards the recipient, maintaining eye contact.
  • If you’re not one of those people, consider you may want to actively implement this technique to make your communication more effective.
  • Most peer communication happens internally with an organization, so I’ll save our external discussions for the next few modules.
  • What I will say is that internal communication with your peers is generally a little bit less formal than your communication with others in the workplace within the confines of an organizational culture.
  • By that I mean if your organizational culture is formal and traditional to begin with, peer communication may be a little more casual within the confines of formality.
  • When communicating virtually with peers, most of the same techniques we have discussed apply with an additional layer of thoughtfulness.
  • Communication is most effective when making connections.
  • You can extend that consideration by inquiring if the proposed communication time works for them.
  • It will not have the benefit of non-verbal communication to supplement the message.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that some organizations have guidelines and boundaries around virtual communications in order to maintain confidentiality.
  • In today’s reading you’ll find additional techniques in all the areas we’re discussing despite our best intention conflict can arise during communication with peers.
  • When entering into verbal communication to resolve conflict, use the five steps in your reading, to set the stage, gather information about the situation, agree upon the issue, brainstorm solutions, and agree upon the final solution.
  • The last thing I want to touch on is co, cross cult, cultural communication.
  • We know that communication across borders can change to the norms, styles, and customs, and can often be challenging.
  • Verbal communication may not be as clear, there may be language differences.
  • Keep cross cultural communication in mind when navigating conflict, as well.
  • In our next session, we’ll be discussing communication with your manager.

1.3 Book Chat: Working Effectively with Virtual Teams

  • We’re going to spend some time discussing this book, Virtual Teams, Mastering Communication and Collaboration in the Digital Age by Terri R Kurtzberg.
  • The truth is then, that means it’s really a good idea for you to ensure that your team members know that there really is somebody out there.
  • In fact trust in virtual teams is a strong predictor of overall success.
  • If you have a team where members really trust one another, they are far more likely to be successful in their endeavors.
  • Some thoughts around trust as expressed here is that trust means being able to answer yes to three questions.
  • Will this person make a good faith effort to hold up on any commitments made? Is this person honest? Can I feel certain that this person will not take advantage of me even if the situation presented itself? These are the three things we ask ourselves about our team members, and if we can say yes we feel like we can trust them.
  • A key to building trust on virtual teams is to try to keep the team size smaller.
  • It makes it easier for team members to interact with one another and to get to know one another.
  • You know how when you meet somebody for the first time in person people talk about first impressions and how important they are? Well we have the virtual equivalent of a first impression.
  • Then in this way when they are successful with these smaller tasks they build trust and they began to build relationships with their virtual team members.
  • You can also help a team get to know one another by interviewing them at the beginning and creating and distributing a chart that shows their areas of expertise.
  • One way to encourage people to use this, which ties into one of our other conversations about virtual meetings, is if you create a game and you do a, I’m going to read a description of a skill that somebody has and those who are listening tell me who is this.
  • So it helps to get them to use it and then create a little bit of fun in your virtual meetings.
  • This is true with in-person teams also and it becomes even more true with virtual teams.
  • So the more that we can keep people together, the better.
  • Try something like arranging team members to go through training together.
  • The thing is that when team members become more than just people who work together, when they develop these bonds and friendly feelings, they’re more likely to call each other for help.
  • It’s easier to go to people you trust and like when you need help.
  • Now we’re going to want to understand that sometimes people are going to tend to group based on geography or time zones.
  • If you have a group of people who are all in the same time zone, it’s going to be easier for them to communicate.
  • When possible try to cut across these time zones or geographic barriers by actually partnering people with others in different time zones.
  • Sometimes in a virtual world communication conflicts can escalate quickly, especially maybe via email or text, because people may say things that they wouldn’t say in person or they might say something differently or they might keep repeating themselves because they’re not sure why they don’t understand each other.
  • A final thought for now, because there’s so much good here for you to find in the book and everything I’m telling you is ideas that are from this book that are helping me so much already, is have some guidelines.
  • Have some guidelines for this is how we communicate as a team and so if we’ve gone back and forth about the same topic maybe two times in a text or an email then have a rule.
  • Okay, after two times we need to find a way to interact than a more personal level phone call, video conference, something.
  • I truly believe we’re heading down the path of becoming more and more virtual and mastering these skills are very, very important.

1.4 Tips for Effective Virtual Meetings

  • Let’s spend some time considering conference calls, and webinars, and video conferences.
  • When you work with virtual teams, you are going to want to reach beyond emails, and texts, and discussion forums, and document management systems.
  • If you manage a virtual team on a consistent basis and your budget doesn’t allow for everyone to get together, then seek to create a budget that allows you to visit your virtual team members.
  • Certainly not as fast as when you can meet in person, but much faster than having all electronic communications with no faces or voices.
  • When you consider a virtual meeting, you’re going to wonder, should you use a conference call, or webinar, or video-conferencing? Let’s discuss the best uses for each approach.
  • Use a conference call when you do not need to show images.
  • You can consider discussing documents using a conference call, as long as those documents are really easy to navigate, that the sections and page numbers are clearly marked.
  • Use a webinar when you want to display slides or images, and you want everyone to be seeing the same slider image at the same time.
  • Now as with any other meeting, people want their time to be valued.
  • Have an agenda, start and end on time, and only include the necessary participants.
  • One way to help is to call on people regularly throughout the meeting, and do not use a specific order.
  • If people understand that you may ask them to contribute at any time, they’re more likely to stay engaged.
  • The best practice for conference calls, webinars, and video conferencing have some similarities.
  • Welcome some conference call do’s and dont’s.
  • Does anybody have a comment? Don’t conduct the meeting in a noisy environment.
  • Another do, do include a picture of yourself and other presenters, preferably toward the beginning or before each person speaks for the first time.
  • Do let people know when you think there’s going to be an intentional silence.
  • Don’t forget, let’s talk about our don’ts now, our Webinar don’ts.
  • Don’t forget to sign on early and make sure everything is working.
  • The reason is sometimes there’s a time delay, and if you’ve already moved on before others have even seen the slide, it’s disconcerting and it makes your presentation appear a little bit disjointed.
  • Don’t allow participants to be off mute for extended periods of time.
  • There will be background noise and it’s going to be distracting.
  • You don’t want to have business clothes on the top and then pajama bottoms on, because you don’t know if you are going to get up or if you’re going to change camera angles.
  • If you work from home, you really want to make sure you’re aware of what others are going to see and in your office too.
  • Do test your equipment before you begin the meeting.
  • If the room is too dark, you’re not going to be seen.
  • If you stare at the camera the whole time, this is the videoconferencing equivalent of making uncomfortably long eye contact.
  • Technology is wonderful, until it isn’t, and if you conduct enough of these types of meetings, you are going to experience some type of glitch.
  • If the glitch is causing the meeting to be unproductive, let everyone go.
  • Then either ask them back to try again at a certain time, or reschedule.
  • You don’t want to waste people’s time with frustrating technology issues.
  • You will be able to handle that with no difficulty, because you are going to practice and you’re going to be prepared.

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