Zoom supplanted much personal interaction during this pandemic. But, here is what we miss.
Only a small part of verbal communication is in the words we speak. Much of our message (indeed, micro-messages) that we communicate are non-verbal. In person, we get the whole picture and quickly divert our attention to details that we perceive as important.
On Zoom, we get a limited picture, hand gestures out of frame, posture obscured by what we cannot see. Facial expressions get lost in a focal length that never changes. Looking someone directly in the eye means to stare intently into the lens of a webcam with the subject only in our peripheral vision.
The best leaders are those with emotional intelligence. The (emotional) data we pick up is mostly non-verbal. On Zoom, emotional data requires we pay close attention, not just to the spoken words, not just with what the screen shows, but those subtle cues. And sometimes, when the data isn’t clear, we have to verify, ask questions and clarify.
- It seems to me that you are struggling with this decision, is that accurate?
- You appear hesitant, can you repeat that thought?
- I see the commitment in your face, am I seeing this correctly?
- I didn’t catch what you said, I was focused on your determined expression. I want to make sure I understand your intention.