I suspect that online dating services and apps owe at least some of their success to the fact that people don’t have to reject potential suitors face-to-face. When I began this project I thought that there may be similar advantages to virtual teamwork. If someone makes a suggestion that you don’t agree with, it can be easier to air your objections online than in person. This kind of directness may also be useful in international and intercultural contexts: we Irish are more noted for dissembling than directness.
I have never been accused of being overly sensitive, and am often too happy to engage in a frank exchange of opinions and ideas; however I did find it difficult to deal with virtual rejection. I was fine when a couple of early suggestions were shot down – I knew there were not going to any major consequences – but I did struggle when I felt that the rejection of a suggestion would have negative consequences.
It can be difficult to object effectively: you appear to be just repeating yourself and, if the discussion has moved on, you teammates may feel that you are stuck in a loop or holding things up. If you try to point out all the potential consequences your post takes on the appearance of a rant (possibly because it is one). Looking for allies is also difficult: there are no indicators as to who might agree with you, or even who is listening.
I still like the directness engendered by virtual collaboration, but procedures need to be put in place for resolving disputes openly and effectively. In the absence of such procedures all you can do is rephrase your suggestion or try to subtly emphasize the consequences. Of course, the phrase ‘subtle emphasis’ does not imply directness, and is probably an oxymoron to boot. Maybe the Irish gift for dissembling has its own advantages.
(Image: Roy Lichtenstein / Public Domain)