and texts . How do the lessons of communicating from behind a screen carry over to the post-Covid hybrid world ? D : We need to talk .
What is your response to that phrase ? How would you feel if your boss , or an important client , sent you that message ?
The language is terse , which makes it seem serious . And when you ’ re reading the message in an email or text , without the context of vocal inflection or an opportunity to read someone ’ s expression , it ’ s easy to fill in the blanks with a worst case scenario : l “ I ’ m about to be fired .” l Or ...“ I ’ m going to lose this account .” l Or ...“ Uh oh , I ’ m in big trouble .” Now , you may have never used this exact phrase , but have you ever sent a late-night meeting request for 8 the next morning , with only the barest explanation ? Do you send emails or leave voicemails demanding an immediate call back , or a visit to your office , with only vague reasoning — or , worse , no reason at all ?
All of these leave you wide open to being digitally misunderstood . We must remember even as we are back in the office , we have a digital body language and it can make or break how others feel in the modern marketplace .
Good leadership and communication are about more than bending people to your standards or norms . It also involves a willingness to engage across the different digital body language styles present in your workplace .
It is critical to establish policies to bridge the communication gaps at work and ensure you gather feedback from your team . Then , focus on norms that best serve the task at hand . Set norms for the appropriate time to use each channel of communication , message length , complexity and response time . Questions that should be answered include : l “ How long is too long for an IM ?” l “ Do we want to put a limit on the number of people to include in a group video call ?” l “ What should meeting agendas look like ?” l “ When ( if ever ) is it appropriate to text someone ?” l “ What is the expected response time for emails ?” It ’ s also essential to have team champions who hold people accountable when practicing these norms and even have a polite correction method if they are not being met . People with connectional intelligence understand which meetings should be calls , and when to look directly at the camera during a Zoom to signal attention . They know never to confuse brevity with clarity , that reading carefully is the new listening and writing clearly is the new empathy .
Pulse : What can we do immediately to improve our nonverbal cues when communicating in a video or conference call ? D : Here are my top tips to improve your digital body language in video meetings : l Make introductions , if necessary . Virtual meetings , especially when tuning in from home , have the potential to feel more personal ( and uncomfortable ) than inperson meetings . Ensure everyone is identified , along with their position , at the start , and allow a few minutes for social chatter . l Keep things short and sweet . Most of us are accustomed to face-to-face meetings and conference sessions that last over an hour . In that kind of three-dimensional environment , participants have a full range of stimuli , fewer outside distractions , and are generally more easily engaged for longer periods of time . Virtual events leave much more room for distractions and multitasking . A planned structure and a ticking clock can help . Productive virtual meetings have a predetermined time frame , limiting the number of ideas each member will bring . l Require that all participants be on camera . As a rule , if someone else ’ s camera is on , yours should be , too . The camera restores some of the body language cues that digital communication takes away , while allowing
“ Ask yourself : What ’ s the big thing I want to get done ? What do powerful connections do for me ? What do I wish my network could do ? Where do I feel like I am not getting enough traction around my goals ?”
12 PULSE n JANUARY 2023