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#WFH: Are You Using Simple Kindness & Connection?

Small talk goes a long way in establishing connections. Simple kindness statements and connection like “How are you? How’s it going? What’s up? How are you doing?” are natural and automatic in the F2F world. We need to consciously establish these same kinds of connections in the virtual environment.  All communication in the virtual environment is “me to you” (M2Y) communication. This social and enjoy-able chit chat is important because it connects us to others in a positive and playful way. It establishes a tone and sets the stage for a relaxed and sociable connection. We remember these kinds of emotional tones. There is research that suggests that we need five positive statements to balance out every negative one. Often as leaders we are put in the situation that we want to exercise some control in the meeting or online conversation. We think the way to do this is to use a controlling tone and language in the con-versation. We set the agenda and diligently go over the items on it. If someone doesn’t agree or is out of sorts, we are pretty sure that if we are convincing enough we will influence them to change to our way of seeing things. Based on our information, it is obvious that they need to see thing our way! If we just stick to our guns, they will change. And if they don’t there must be something wrong with them. There must be a personal issue that is causing them to re-sist our point of view. This is very thin ice. It can lead to more demanding language and arguments.

This can also be a power play. People working in a virtual environment can be especially vulnerable because (or maybe as the management) you can feel vulnerable and ineffective. They feel like they can’t control what they can’t see. They think if they could just have us back in the office where they could observe us then they could determine if we were re-ally working hard. If we were dedicated, we would be there early and leave late. But in the virtual world this doesn’t work. The real dynamic here is that they never really had control of us. Unless they are comfortable in their role, their power and their responsibilities, they can feel very vulnerable. Not being F2F can cause us to feel vulnerable. When people feel vulnerable, they can feel threatened.

There is a big difference between visibility in an organization and transparency. Visibility is put-ting everything out there and can add to the noise. Transparency is a focus on clarity, openness and unambiguity. This duality can be fueled by change and exemplified in the virtual environment. In the virtual world it is easier to have disagreements. This means if our communication is going to be effective it must be intentionally relevant, truthful and clear. Visibility can still present false information. Transparency allows everyone to see what is being presented. It is a 360-degree view that supports total and complete clarity.

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