I have worked with clients online all the time, and I have learned that when the communication channel is about to get broken I do one of the following: a) I set up a meeting to go over things, and b) make a phone call if an in-person meeting is not possible.
When running projects, I use a Project Management method call SCRUM, it allows me to always have crisp and clear comunication–via email or in person–and update people about the project direction. This avoids conflict among the team.
Here is a link if you want to read more about SCRUM:
One story I can share in regards to working on an SEO or Web Design project, when I took Project Management classes years go, my team and I were assigned a project together. Since this was not an in-class assignment, but as a homework assignment, we set it up to do it through Google Docs (now called Google Drive). All you need to use Google Drive, is a gmail or Google account. This Cloud computing technology site allows all members of the team to write simultaneously on one paper (MS WORD), while all of you can chat. This tool resulted in a good aid to the team and allows us to finish the project on time, and without many conflicting arguments. But there are many other project management tools out there to use.
But what to say when some members of your team won’t allow participation and are putting the project in jeopardy?
It is not rude to say to someone when they are wrong, but of course there are other ways to build a well-supported argument to persuade this person. Instead of saying words like “you are wrong,” or “I dont agree.” In this case you were not in a place of authority this is why your argument fail.
“I see where you are coming from, and I like your initiative and your idea, but don’t you think this would need this type of information to make it better?”
Other times a well-supported argument won’t work because some people are simply what you call “narcissists and ego-centric driven people.” My advice with those types of people is to walk away. Of course, many times we can’t and that is where clear communication, persuasion and all the Communications the Management book talk about is teachines us comes in use (which, lets call this for what it really is, this book is to learn “how to manipulate people into doing what you what.” if you are ethical, hopefully you do what is bes for the organization). Well, what I learned is that you cannot possibly work with people who are just there to impose their will and make everyone miserable, plus putting a project in jeopardy. With people like this, I normally look for another job, or ask my professor to assign me to another group. Or I do my own project and see if the professor is ok with it.
Sorry, you had such a hard time working with your team –sometimes it is about luck when it comes to forming a good team. This is why the SOCIAL CAPITAL is so important in any business. Hire the right people to work with the right people.
Always tried keeping up your persuasive communication clear by building a well-developed arguments.