My Profile Photo

Skylar Watson

"The biggest communication problem is we don't listen to understand. We listen to reply"

Effective Communication Through Sentiment Analysis

Being able to articulate our thoughts and ideas efficiently is a crucial part of our daily lives. When we’re unable to communicate our messages efficiently, we begin to decrease our effectiveness in our collaborations. In fact, according to Queens University, “39% of surveyed employees worldwide say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough.” By becoming more aware of how we’re collaborating with our peers, we enable our relationships to foster.

A few years back I had an opportunity to coach a remote team who’d been facing difficulties collaborating with on-site employees. Regardless of their efforts to improve their skill-set; they continued to feel inadequate compared to their U.S counterparts.

Negative e-mail correspondence was a contributing factor for the division of the team. I created a folder in Outlook for communication between the groups to understand impact e-mails had. In the beginning, I spent my mornings going through these e-mails looking for signs of adverse sentiment. Later, I wrote an application for analyzing these e-mails to provide a sentiment rating.

I started to reach out to individuals who’d authored the e-mails with the highest sentiment rating. I discovered they weren’t aware of the negativity communicated inside their messages and how the co-team interpreted them. Both teams wrote e-mails for themselves in their context, not in the context of the individuals receiving their communication.

After identifying the communication problem finding solutions to fill the gap became a realistic goal. One of these solutions included having a few of the U.S. developers visit the off-site team. By having these individuals co-located they were able to put past experiences into perspective better.

Reviewing e-mails with a low sentiment rating provided insight into the division of the team and offered a historical baseline to see continued growth.

Conveying tone, let alone sarcasm and slang through e-mail is hard. When working with off-shore teams, it’s important to be mindful of how we’re communicating.