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#WFH: What Are You Saying to Yourself?

When we are trying to communicate with an-other individual it is important to identify what emotions we are bring to the conversation. It helps to identify those feelings. Put a reason behind why we are feeling what we are feeling. Anchor ourselves in the present. Most of us have a difficult time get-ting in touch with our own emotions let alone having empathy for someone else. Being able to communicate effectively in a virtual environment with others starts with knowing and owning yourself.

My earlier book, The Pajama Effect, identified one of the biggest challenges of working in a virtual environment is that we are alone with ourselves. We can be our own best friend or worst enemy. It is almost entirely up to us. This is why learning to act with autonomy is so very important. Learning to slow those voices in our head down so that we can get a handle on what we are really saying to our-selves and what we are saying about others is imperative. We are programed to focus on the negatives in others. This goes back to the dinosaurs and has to do with the development of the brain and the survival instinct. It served us well then but it does not serve us well now.

We also have a tendency, because of the wiring in our brain’s circuitry, to believe what we have always believed, and think what we have always thought. Therefore, we run the same videos over and over in our heads and ruminate monologues again and again and again. It has to do with our neuro circuitry. This causes quick reactions. When we communicate virtually we need to take extra care that we are not reacting.

Technology disconnects us and distracts us. It removes us from the here and now. It is easier to detach and not really listen in the virtual environment because to an extent we are already detached. How-ever, if we are not paying attention we can tune out and start to critically judge people, especially before we have heard their point of view. We overgeneralize, awfulize and engage in fortune telling. We categorize, pass judgment and label. In order to get to the adult voice, we want to describe the facts. Like Sargent Friday said, “Nothing but the facts, Mam!” It helps to identify and describe our emotions. This can help us think it through to the end. Will what we are about to communicate give us the results we want? Do we have all the facts?

We want to remain open to new information and focus on outcomes. Appreciation and respect for the position of others will change the way we communicate. We want to focus our conversation on what is working, not what isn’t. We want to align our conversations so that they add value to the outcome we seek, not detract from it. And we want to always ask the other party for input. How do they see the situation? What is their point of view? What do they have to offer as a solution? Keep the conversation open so that we don’t close it down. Be supportive, appreciative and understanding.

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