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Threedom Solutions - Inspiring people, improving performance

Putting the va va voom in Zoom

Author: Michelle Fitzsimons

How Zoom means we have to work harder than ever to understand each other and the importance of being able to adapt your communication style to get the best out of your working relationships.

I want to look you in the eye and shake your hand, but I can’t. We are in a new world of communication and most of us are not very good at it.

I always preferred to meet for a coffee than chat on the phone and while it may be more time consuming, it is worth the investment. Then we got “Lockdown”, “WFH” and “Zoom” as part of our ways of working and everyday language. Are my coffee drinking days really over? My ability to read the room is temporarily obsolete. As the pandemic approached it was bad enough to stop shaking hands but then lockdown happened – now we can’t even look each other in the eye.

I know it will come back, but I also know WFH and Zoom will not go away.

At times I have found it difficult working on Zoom, at times quite exhausting. Whether that is delivering workshops, taking part as a delegate, participating in meetings, or family gatherings. Bingo across the generations requires diplomacy of a level never before seen. All because communicating effectively in this virtual world is so much more difficult. We aren’t able to properly see or hear each other. Is that person gazing out of a window or looking at their second screen? Are they actually listening intently, trying to work out what books are on the shelf behind me or worried they can hear the Amazon delivery person passing on by without the door being answered? If it looks like they are looking at me they aren’t really, they are looking at their camera. AAARRRRGGGHHHH? Is it just me who feels like this?

Unless there is technology that I don’t know about, that isn’t going to change and we have to find new ways of enhancing our communication.

So, what can we do? To say we don’t really like the virtual way of working, I actually think at Threedom we’ve got it nailed. Our communication is constructive, supportive, clear and honest even in these strange times. That’s because we understand how each other likes to communicate. We know the language to use and more importantly we can challenge each other and deal with conflict constructively. We don’t need to rely on non-verbal signals, we can just say it.

How? Well, because we know our strengths and our weaknesses and we respect them. By strengths I don’t just mean what we’re good at, I mean our preferred ways of working and, by default, our preferred ways of communicating. By weakness I don’t mean something we can’t do, but something we prefer not to, something which doesn’t energise us.

Understanding these strengths and weaknesses in yourself and your colleagues opens a whole new world of communicating but, as with all good things, it takes effort.

Let me give you an example.

Three of my strengths are creativity, collaboration and enthusiasm. I love new ideas, exploring different ways of doing something and I like to get giddy about them. I also want you to join in.

Unfortunately, I have a real aversion to detail. If you want to engage me with ease then give me the new ideas and excitement, tell me about the opportunity, allow me to join in but avoid all the nitty gritty detail. Simple! If you love the detail, like to work alone and have a much more measured level of enthusiasm, then the way you prefer to communicate is very unlikely to grab my attention.

However, if we know this about each other, then we can adjust our style accordingly, respect the fact we are just different in our preferences and use those differences to everyone’s advantage. Simple as that!

Once the work is done to understand your own strengths and then those of your colleagues you can create a safe place to have great quality discussion conflict and therefore progress.

So, if I can help with identifying your strengths using the great Strengthscope profiling tool we use, or lend you some of my creativity, enthusiasm and collaboration, just give me a shout. Just watch out for the lack of detail and absence of emotional control though – no one is perfect ?

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