Practice #3: Use your technology.

You have the tools!

Remote work
resolve conflict

The tools are only as good as the operator. 

Over the last few years, the quality of communication tools has been dramatically enhanced. I can remember watching the Jetson's cartoon and imagining what it would be like to see the person on the other end of a call. Well, the future has arrived and thanks to tools like Facetime, Skype, WebEx, Zoom, TEAMS and others, video-conferencing is a reality. 

The challenge for most leaders is learning to use these tools effectively. Although not as complete as in-person, video-conferencing allows both parties to have access to important non-verbal communication. This can make a big difference in understanding the message and feeling connected to each other. With video-conferencing, you can get a sense of the other party's emotional state or perhaps you might notice they are looking fatigued, or even better, that they are energized or excited. This information will help you match their mood and be empathetic, supportive, or a cheerleader, depending on what you notice. The key is, cameras must be turned on! Bad hair days or a messy desk should not be a reason for turning on the camera. You can model appropriate behavior bey always ensuring that your camera is on and asking the other party to turn their camera on. 

An issue we never had to deal with before is paying attention to what is in our background. Laundry, an unmade bed, or piles of books and files on the desk will not represent you well. Take a look at what others will see and make appropriate adjustments. Some people like to use a virtual background and, while this is acceptable, it can be annoying if every time you move, you get your real background breaking through. Be sure that your computer can handle a virtual background properly or invest in a green screen you can place behind your chair. This will eliminate the breakthrough issue. 

You might also look at the lighting situation. Too much light from a window can make you look very dark on your screen. You might need to adjust the curtains or change the angle of your camera. Which brings us to another issue, the positioning of the camera. It is quite annoying to see only half a face or looking up someone's nose. Position your camera so that it captures your whole head and is about level with your eyes. You might need to invest in a webcam to allow for the right positioning. 

While we now have some powerful technology, the tools won't do you a lot of good unless you are using them effectively. Taking some time to get comfortable with the tools will make each contact with your team members more pleasant. 

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Books by Dr. Daoust

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