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Walking the Digital Communication Tightrope

January 20, 2023 SHIFT


With four generations in the workforce it's no wonder leaders struggle with collaboration and communication, especially in the digital world.

The newest group in the workforce born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z (also called "zoomers"), is redefining how we communicate – and it's often the opposite of how the older generations were taught.

This Washington Post article flags that "sometimes zoomers interpret periods as passive-aggressive or cold because it's so formal. But older colleagues prefer to use full sentences, complete with periods."

A great example:


The one on the right might make your Gen Z coworker question whether the praise is genuine. All because of punctuation.

Periods at the end of sentences are just the tip of the iceberg. From new emoji meanings to slang, the way we communicate digitally can create clarity OR confusion.

Not sure where to start? Here are three ideas for bridging the communication gap:

  • Understand different preferences: Talk about your quirks and observations. Think of it as a workout of your digital etiquette. When someone starts at SHIFT, we always ask them how they like to be communicated with and what their preferences are based on how they like to work.

  • Consider the right channels: Align on what mediums (Slack, Latch, email, etc.) are best suited for specific types of communication. Too many companies are relying solely on email. The sheer quantity of emails has dialed up significantly – and that overwhelm can contribute to burnout.

  • Align on response time expectations: Come to an understanding of what to expect from one another. Unpack how you both may interpret reply times.

As with anything, there's no silver bullet and we're all building digital emotional intelligence as we go. Digital emotional intelligence might just be the most valuable and underrated skill of today.

We've Kidnapped Your Mother


Recently, a CEO told us that he seriously debated putting "We've kidnapped your mother" as the subject line of his email JUST so he could get people to open it.

This struggle with digital collaboration and breaking through the noise is something we hear day in and day out from leaders and employees alike.

Digital communication and collaboration have never been harder – and there's never been a bigger opportunity for redesigning the way we do it.

In response to these modern-day work challenges, we're hosting a SHIFT Summit focused on digital collaboration on February 2nd!

This virtual event is designed for leaders and managers who want actionable tactics for:

  • Improving digital emotional intelligence and presence
  • Mastering asynchronous collaboration and active communication
  • Becoming a great digital teammate
  • Changing your mindset for success
  • Evolving as a leader in a digital environment

The SHIFT Summit is only for people in our SHIFTiverse.

There are LIMITED free seats available, so register to claim your spot ASAP.

Authenticity and Humor – or Bust

A new trend called "shitposting" is gaining some traction as more people are "adding a satirical and highly meta dimension to what has long been the most overly serious social media platform around."

Gen Z (among others) wants to see LinkedIn move away from fake formality and self-congratulatory hustle culture fluff.

LinkedIn isn't all BS, but it is refreshing to see people who aren't afraid to poke the bear. The virality of these posts shows that the humor isn't lost on other LinkedIn users.


Some "shitposts" are actually attracting quality talent. Humor and fun are more compelling than corporate jargon.

What do you think?

Stay in the Know

💤 How would you feel if your employees took naps at work? It turns out that 26-minute naps lead to a 34% improvement in task performance and a more than 50% increase in overall alertness.

Approximately 38% of employees struggle with sleep-related challenges at work, and the effects of that fatigue cost employers around $1,967 annually per employee. That adds up to $136.4 billion a year in total loss of productivity.

Learn how more restorative sleep can make a world of difference.

😰 31% of U.S. professionals are concerned that their employers might be planning budget cuts and/or layoffs.

💸 The recent Labor Market Survey shows a rise in the average reservation wage – the lowest wage respondents would be willing to accept for a new job – to $73,667, which is the highest level since the series began in 2014.

🔥 Still struggling to extinguish burnout in your organization? These surprising stats prove that you're not alone. The good news is that there are preventative solutions that leaders can put in place.

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Shoutout to our teammates Julie Gelb and Misti Aaronson who helped shape this week's edition of Stories that SHIFT.

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TOPICS: Workplace Innovation, leadership, stories that shift