Unified Communications Featured Article

Don't Kill the Small Talk - Use It to Your Advantage

December 16, 2015

How big are you on small talk? Does that answer change in a meeting? We’ve all had our fair share of attending both invigorating and completely time wasting meetings. Some invited participation from its participants and others were merely formed as a way to talk at its participants. If the focus was to work as a team, the outcome could be lackluster if we don’t distinguish the difference.

A recent Fast Company post explored this concept, focusing on the importance of small talk. In some instances, it’s been shown to save lives. Virgin Pulse CEO, Chris Boyce suggested the example of the oil rig. If individuals working on the rigs take the time to get to know one another before they start their projects, they learn about their families, who they are and more. Once they get to work, accident rates decrease significantly.

In the business world, we’re not always meeting and working in situations where a wrong turn can impact the life of another. But, the outcomes are still important. For that reason, it’s important to build a strong team; building trust among its members where each one cares if another succeeds as they understand the impact on the whole. This is especially true when members of the team are located in other geographic areas and in-person meetings are few and far between.

This is where unified communications has to play an important role. Companies have to have the tools ready for employees to use that will enable them to make strong connections. A simple phone call or email when something is needed is not enough – you can’t build meaningful or trusting relationships that way. Using video conferencing and instant messaging can help bridge that gap, but only if information sharing is not focused solely on the needs of the business and also includes time for small talk.

The concept is much easier said than done, however. During virtual meetings, it’s difficult to know when it’s appropriate to interrupt. Unified communications may give participants the opportunity to message someone in the meeting to get a second opinion on what to do and when, but incorporating these elements into the meeting guidelines is a much more effective method. For instance, give virtual participants a hand raising feature so they can offer an opinion when they have one.

Even more importantly, allow opportunities for the small talk. Use whatever capabilities you have across the unified communications platform to allow participants to make connections. It’s part of the foundation behind Jabra’s new ways of working. The goal is not to work harder, but instead to make smarter decisions that have a positive impact on the whole team. If you’re not making this a priority, you’re not getting the most bang for your meeting buck.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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