More than ever, even beyond the days after 9/11, we need to come together. We must care for one another even though we can’t be in the same room together. We’re social animals who need to communicate. Being present via videoconferencing has its challenges, but you must persevere. I know it because like you, I’m living it and teaching through this medium.
Don’t let these five pitfalls keep you away from colleagues or clients in a time when we need to be present, empathetic, and relational.
Putting Your Agenda Ahead of Your Colleagues
Years ago a coach of mine taught me to be interested, then interesting. You honor others by being present to them, understanding their issues, challenges, and worries. Nothing can take the place of realizing another person’s plight. Especially in these times, it’s important that you connect on a human level, not just a professional one that has a specific agenda. Ask them how they are? How their family is? Do they have loved ones abroad? Listening to people eases their pain by you understanding it. Believe me, they can’t hear what you want to convey UNLESS you understand and acknowledge them first.
Thinking That Your Physical Appearance Doesn’t Matter
I’ve heard people proudly say, “I did that videoconference in my PJs!” That’s nothing about which one should boast. What it says that you are taking a far too casual approach. Stop taking it easy with your physical comportment. Dress as though you are in the room with others, not a movie night at home. Dressing the part illustrates you care about yourself, your meeting participants and the subject that’s being discussed. Ask yourself…would I walk into my boss’s office dressed like this?
With so many people working at home now because of the Coronavirus, many will fall into the trap of “multitasking” during videoconferencing and teleconferencing. No one can see you texting, or answering an email on your phone, or catching up on Words with Friends. Stop it! Stop texting, reading from your phone, reading ANYTHING. The only thing you should be reading is the other people in the meeting and what’s important to them. In other words, stay alert. Keep contributing.
Losing Your Optimism
When you aren’t directly connected with your co-workers, supervisors, and clients, it’s easy to feel isolated and lose some of the positivity that is critical in creating good professional relationships. However, optimism is a funny thing. Once you become comfortable with it, it stays with you. It’s also an important way to manage our survival-minds. Your optimism is contagious. It also invites people to contribute to an issue where they otherwise may not from the somberness of the meeting’s climate. I’ll also note that connected to optimism is laughter. Be ready to laugh. Contribute something that is anecdotally amusing. Lighten the mood, especially in these times. Serious issues are being handled but that doesn’t mean we can have a good, old-fashioned laugh every so often!
However you have to, make sure your videoconferencing system works. And since people are working from home now instead of the office, you must implement videoconferencing. It is not acceptable to only communicate via phone when you can be seen as well as heard. This makes a difference! Once you are seen, you’ll actually brighten a person’s day along with your own. Remember, it’s about staying connected through this time in our world. Be the bridge for people and keep others connected through your efforts.
Finally, make a list of people who you care about. Make a list of people who have contributed to your success in life, then, CALL THEM. You’ll feel great and so will they. This affects your physical and mental health. It also keeps the world connected.
As John Lennon said in Come Together, “one and one makes three.” That’s what the world needs now.