Things have shifted, and many people have found themselves working from home. For those who are not accustomed to working from home full time, communicating in a contact-free working environment creates a whole different dynamic when we talk about communicating successfully. The words we use and the tone we set, are more important now, whereas body language is no longer useful. Having high emotional intelligence (the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions, as well as the emotion's of others) is key to being successful during this time:
1. Mental Health Matters Too
We live in the age of COVID-19 now. Daycares, schools, and businesses are closed. Families are confined to their homes; sometimes without the ability to take a break or relax. This puts a strain on everyone. I saw a quote on Twitter that said, "You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work." There is no use in pretending that this whole situation is business as usual. Working culture has changed and this has impacted the mental health of everyone; not only those who are working but their families as well. If you are not aware of this change, then you are ignoring it. People are tired, aggravated, confused, and exhausted. The things you say and how you same them during this time can make a big difference to those around you.
I found that when people have a stake in the game, they are more likely to put in the work to achieve a common goal. Treating each other as comrades, being frank, and setting a tone of "We are all in this together" (meaning it; people can sense when you are being disingenuous) will create a stronger team dynamic. If the conversation you are having is not conducive to the goal, then there is no reason to have it. Use words that are subjective, yet helpful and team members will have more of an inclination to achieve the goal together as a team. Do the opposite, and you will create a rift that will be hard to undo without in-person solutions.
3. People Focused
Remember when I said people can sense when you are being disingenuous? It can be frustrating when others push through the motions when they are not all in. Show up as a real person on the phone, on video, or via email. This requires both empathy and sympathy. You have to be willing to put yourself in other people's shoes. It can't be full steam ahead 100% of the time. Life is full of distractions, even more so now. People don't have time for pleasantries or beating around the bush. It is time to show your hand and see where that takes you.
Sometimes expectations don't change no matter the situation. A good leader understands the team's needs. Sometimes it is not about being a leader at all, but just the act of participating in the conversation. Before you send that email or start that video call, understand that not everyone is where you are. People are an important asset, but they are just that; they are people. We are imperfect yet perfect for this thing we call communicating.