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Communicating Authentically in a Virtual World

Communicating Authentically in a Virtual World

hbr.org

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The Way We Communicate Matters

Being inauthentic by hiding underlying authentic emotions may be done with a prosocial motivation to benefit others, with a realization that true authenticity may not be appropriate for the context.

  • If you are communicating authentically, try to use ...

While being perceived as authentic is ideal, actually always behaving authentically can lead to disaster. Imagine a manager who, while laying off an employee, expresses underlying happiness because her soon-to-be spouse just accepted her marriage proposal that morning. Or an exec...

Regardless of their motives, it is first important to acknowledge that despite someone’s best efforts, true underlying emotions often do leak through, resulting in emotional mismatches that may make them appear inauthentic.

It may be difficult to display the needed emotion due to challenges or conflicting factors directly related to the situation.

For instance, even when required by a job, it can be nearly impossible to engage in authentic “service with a smile” if a customer is yelling at you, or be emotiona...

Even if there are no emotionally-relevant challenges to the situation itself, emotions often spill over from one moment to the next. A strong emotion from a prior interaction doesn’t automatically dissipate as soon as that interaction is done.

As a result, emotions may linger to contexts w...

Given that many workplace interactions now occur at a distance, there is often a choice of which mode of communication to utilize, from email to face-to-face and video conferencing. If it’s possible that some modes of communication can result in misinterpretations or masking of emotions, could th...

Even when an individual’s emotion is truly authentic, there are now technology-driven communication barriers that may prevent that emotion from being perceived as authentic. Especially given recent pandemic-related workspace changes, many work interactions now occur at a distance.

Yet, si...

When emotion is authentic, it is best to use the richest communication medium available, such as face-to-face or video communication. However, when needing to relay inauthentic communication, there was a surprising difference.

Email communication was not the best choice — ...

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