Conversations gone kaput. Hello WFH and all things digital!
Updated: May 8
Ever since the lock down period was formally declared, making all professionals resort to work from home, effective communications at workplace have suffered a major jolt, especially for smaller and "just bootstrapped" units like mine where one person is expected to wear multiple hats!
Few days ago, I was on a continuous chatting mode, explaining to a certain colleague about what exactly I wanted to be done to a certain project. Mind you, my app did convey the message, albeit expressionless and unmodulated. What followed this conversation were some more accusations and infuriated emojis :) A face to face conversation could have saved the situation is what I was certainly convinced of then.
I also believe that trying to patch a video or VOIP call for every little thing is certainly not my cup of coffee, and for many others too. So, in a digital world, the hands have taken over the reigns to do the talking- be it typing ,or using too much of hand gestures to prove a point when video streaming goes live :)
Now, do you agree when I say that face to face conversations and effective way of communicating ideas are as important as our toilet timings and food cravings ?
Still need more convincing? Go on reading further.
Studies show that major disagreements at workplace happen when each person believes his/her idea to be superior than the rest in the peer group. Sometimes it proves to be true, while at many a time it may be just a personal ego boost !
Conversations boil down to clashes between point of views and that's when the grey matters up there suffer a major "Chemical locha" and refuse to listen/agree/accept things. Emotionally disturbed, mental fatigue and few such jargon suddenly pop up from no where and start dictating both our mind as well as the heart. Communication takes a different trajectory, goes haywire, and the project at hand(for which the conversations begin at the first place) goes virtually non-existent. So, how does the situation look like now? Well, "Deadlock" I would say.
From an industry standpoint, I believe , it is important for all employees, across groups and levels, be trained for sessions on effective ways of conveying ideas, email etiquette, how "not to" speak to a sensitive colleague, how to dress well even when attending a meeting over Zoom etc.
A certain incident happened yesterday while my 8 years old was taking his web classes on Zoom and attempting to answer his class test paper on my mobile phone. Well, the questionnaire was a Google Forms shared to parents Whatsapp group. For some unknown reason, he failed to click and submit responses for couple of questions. He went berserk. Feeling helpless, we buzzed on that chat window provided on the video conference platform, hell it went unnoticed. We were muted by the admin, so my son and I waving hands crazily seeking someone's attention would have been some amusement to other children looking at the screen. Oh the "Stress-busters" us ! Some herculean efforts and simultaneously pinging on Whastapp fetched us that much needed connection, but the problem wasn't resolved anyways. All these would have been much easier in a conventional method of writing an exam. Isn't it?
A student of mine had to appear for her group discussion and personal interview for an MBA course, during the prevailing lock down period in India. The university's admission cell informed her of being ready for getting assessed online through web conferencing. She had put in her best efforts during the entire one year for preparations and admissions to her dream management college was now at stake. What if internet connectivity gets lost? Or may be she doesn't sound authentic or convincing? It's a virtual interview process after all. Technical glitches or feeling of anxiety are supposedly common phenomena in this situation. To her dismay, the scheduled interview did begin with a minor snag. It was sheer luck that the panel themselves faced some problem and suggested an alternate date and time for this interview to happen. Even the interview panel was convinced that taking formal management education related assessments are best done in person. It's not always the content, but the intent, tone, non verbal gestures and uninterrupted ideas exchange between the interview panel and the aspirant and many such similar factors that determine who is the best fit candidate for the said course.
I had a former colleague who once signed off an email to an interviewed candidate for a very senior role and informed him that he was rejected by the panel in a very informal way ,with a "Cheers and best regards" to put a final nail to the coffin :)
Voila, the next day he received an e-mail on being insensitive, immature and incapable of handling the role of an HR. Well, the candidate could just read the words, and not the feelings or emotions of this colleague- who was himself sitting on a deadline to fill that role in our organization.
Wrong choice of words, conversations gone kaput.
Your conversation skills can make or break a deal ! On a digital platform, important aspects may be at stake, or go unnoticed. For important things in life, Its essential that we choose the right platform and be articulate. Go digital, but choose your cards wisely !