When we’re face to face with colleagues, we act as if we’re building connections – a quick hello or “how are you?”/”fine” – but those interactions really aren’t creating the meaningful relationships that we desire. Such exchanges of niceties are merely rote actions without real engagement. The remote environment has highlighted that we don’t always have the connections that we thought we did – and now we’re on screen in full view of having to create them. It’s part of why video meetings are so exhausting.

While it may be tempting to jump right into tasks when starting a Zoom call, it is more important than ever to build connections first. Author and thought leader Shenandoah Chefalo recommends that you flip the usual ratio of meetings to make it 2/3 relationship building and 1/3 task functions. “Connection, connection, connection,” she says. “Build the relationship first, then task.”

It may seem strange to dedicate time toward getting to “know” someone with whom you have previously worked with in person, but chances are there is still much about them that is new to you. What are their current challenges working from home or in the midst of social change? What’s the best part of life today?  What have they learned lately?

Or you could reprise a highlight from grade school and take advantage of the opportunity to do “show and tell.” In my classes, I met my students’ children, guinea pig, cat, and dogs as well as saw bookshelves and new décor – none of which would have been possible in person.

Zoom is exhausting! But perhaps not for the reasons you initially thought. Take the time to build more meaningful connections that will last far beyond the virus and help you be more effective with your tasks now.

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