Might sound like an odd thing to think about. And I am not just talking about working from home.
My daughter left me this note “Don’t Touch” with respect to her late night art project on the dining room table. My first reaction in the morning was “how could she use the kitchen table?” She has an area in the entry way for this. Not only did paint get on the table but we were not allowed to use it. My first reaction was to go into “mom mode” and start laying down the house rules.
As I stood there reflecting on the sign, I decided to communicate a different way. I made my own sign and left it on the table next to hers. I chuckled to myself and patiently waited. As she woke and entered the kitchen to get breakfast, she laughed and looked over at me. “I am sorry for using the table mom. I’ll clean it up.”
And then she cleaned it up. Now I could have yelled and barked but I chose a more humorous route which she still jokes about today. It created a memory for her. In these challenging times, I try to keep that perspective in mind during my online interactions.
On the other side of every phone call and online meeting is a person likely coping with something. Maybe they have an elderly parent they are concerned about? Maybe they are struggling with home schooling kids? Maybe they are coming to your meeting after their 6 year old spilt orange juice all over the kitchen floor (not kidding!). Or maybe they live by themselves and are just missing social interaction?
With all this in mind, there is something more than just business as usual to carry into each call. It might be raising the energy on the meeting through an ice breaker. It might be telling a joke. Or it might just be listening and caring.
Every online meeting is an opportunity to bring something you have to help the person on the other side and understanding that drives the difference in your communication.