Our working days are filled with video meetings at the moment. Zoom, Teams etc have made many working lives manageable during the pandemic. But……do you ever get the sense that even though you’re meeting people regularly over video, and they’re meeting you, you might actually be seeing less of them? And being seen less yourself?
In the film “Back to The Future”, the lead character Marty, has in his possession a picture of his family. When events in Marty’s 1955 threaten the future, one by one, each member of his family begins to fade from the photo. When he notices this, he takes action so that the future can be as it is (with a few twists as it turns out) and the individuals reappear in the picture.
Recently, one of my clients framed this rather elegantly in the question: “Who are we when we meet? And who are we meeting?” This made me think about how we might go about restoring ourselves to the picture? Technology brings us together. But how do we show up when we get there?
Work has changed
It used to have tangible, concrete qualities. It had a place. You left home and made a journey to that place. There were colleagues, physically around. Work was punctuated by moments of exchange, collaboration, spontaneity. Then you’d leave and head home.
You can recreate some of these things. Clear a place in your home for work. Go for a walk around the block to recreate the commute.
What about the interactions, the ‘bit in the middle’?
How do you recreate those? Technology is helping. You couldn’t imagine working remotely at all without Zoom or some of the other collaborative applications available. But they don’t fully restore us to the picture. We need to do that for ourselves, by showing up as individuals. If we can work out how, we can appear more vividly in the picture for us and each other.
Painting yourself back into the picture
Here are some areas to explore that can make you appear more brightly to others, and others more brightly to you. It’s about giving your….
Attention: this is not the hypnotic scrolling that we sometimes mistake for attention when we encounter a screen. This is about paying proper, human attention. Attend to the person or people who show up, as you would in a physical encounter. Make time for ‘hi’s and how are you’s’. And then show….
Curiousity: listen and ask a question, make a comment in response to what they’ve said. Show that you are there, that you heard them. And while we’re on listening….
Expand it: turn your own inner voice down and tune in to the words of the speaker. Allow them to finish. And listen for the ‘pin dropping moment’, a phrase or word or pause even, that hints at the possible meaning behind their words. And talking of words….
Speak easy: When it’s your turn to speak, be easy to listen to. Say less. Say it more slowly. Leave gaps. Allow your listener to stay with you. To enjoy listening to you.
By working on how you can give more in these four areas and you’ll get more in return. Take this thinking and turn it into an experiment. You’ll find yourself becoming restored to the picture. And you’ll do the same for your colleagues.
Would you like to be supported to get more comfortable with communication over a screen? For an informal chat about how coaching could help you get there, get in touch here.