Virtual Success Series: Stop Assuming


I know what you’re thinking. Another blog post about how to operate in these virtual times? Now? So close to the end of most places being under quarantine? Yes. Because this new way of working is not going away any time soon.

For many businesses, the guidelines about how to work being put into place around the globe include much more generous home-working allowances. One company we work with is starting off by having each person in the physical offices one day per week, then two, and so on, through the end of August.

And frankly, the strategies we’ll share in this Virtual Success Series translate nicely no matter what the physical working environment looks like. If you’re still interested, keep reading!

When it comes to communication, too many of us, too often, make assumptions. There are assumptions made about how much (or how little) information someone might need from us; about their understanding (or lack thereof) of how their work connects to the bigger picture; about how they would like to be managed; about how much support they need (or don’t) during these unprecedented times. You name it, people make assumptions about it.

We’ve heard one universal insight over and over from the leaders we’ve been coaching during this crisis. People feel isolated. For many, that translates to feeling out of the loop, disconnected, unsure of ongoing priorities, and just a general waning of confidence. Frankly, it’s a veritable breeding ground for assumptions.

We have learned just how much we have taken for granted the casual face-to-face interactions we have in the workplace. We rely on those interactions far more than we realize to foster ongoing relationships, build trust, and casually (and very frequently) communicate.

In working remotely, communicating is key. Ask questions rather than making assumptions, about everything from how the other person is coping to what their priorities are to how often they’d like to touch base. Ask about the best time of day to connect, since many of us are also juggling partners working from home, kids at home of all ages, and lousy internet connections. Ask what they need and how you can best support them. Ask what else they need to know, and what else they wish you would ask them.


Let that asking lead to listening, which leads to adjusting accordingly, which leads to greater success, whether virtually or face-to-face.

Stay safe out there, and be kind.

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