Build Closer Team Relationships by Perking Up Video Calls with Co-Workers
As most of you know, my main area of research and writing is workplace feedback—giving and receiving it. That topic is huge, and it spills over into many other areas of communication, including how to build great relationships with co-workers as the foundation for trust, feedback, and collaborating for shared success. Unfortunately, these aren’t usually all that quick or easy to implement, and many experienced professionals are on a lifetime quest.
Today, we’re more challenged than ever. Dependent on remote communication, due to the pandemic or because of company decisions to cut costs for office spaces, the monkey wrench that frustrates many is remote video calls (Zoom, Facetime, etc.) replacing face to face meetings. People are opting to communicate less to avoid “Zoom fatigue” and other aches and pains of today’s technology. Many of these problems are well-explained by neuro-science—changes in brain chemistry that occur when people are not talking face to face.
However, it’s more important now, to communicate with each person on your team, especially if you’re the team leader. Frequent, shorter meetings and calls may help, but you will regret letting the communication go altogether and allow longer and longer periods of not connecting, checking in, hearing about their world, their work, and their plans.
Today, I want to share some quick tips you can start implementing right away that will bridge the communication gaps created with video calls:
1) Do not multi-task: Give people your full attention
Whether it’s an individual or group call, leave your phone messages, other media, or notes (unless they you are deliberately reading them out loud or screen-sharing) for later. Just a few minutes of the uninterrupted you, is a great investment of your time. Even though the eye contact is a bit out of sync, it’s way better than others’ easy observations of you looking at something else.
2) Check in with people to get a feeling of how they are and what they’re up to today
Start with yourself and share a quick perception about the work (or personal experience) to set the context. You don’t need to spend much time of this, but it always helps, even when you are rushed to meet a deadline.
3) Do a progress check
Ask each person how they’re doing on the plans from the last call. If it’s a group call, set up individual follow-ups if it will be too time consuming for the others who don’t need to be on all parts of the call.
4) Give some positive feedback if it’s appropriate and you’re familiar with the details When this is authentic, you will stimulate positive brain reactions and they will be motivated to talk again soon.
5) Leave with a clear understanding of what your team members are planning
Even when they are planning a camping trip for the weekend, repeat and reinforce their plans for a positive experience. If it’s work, you are setting the stage for follow-up soon.
6) Make a specific plan for your next call or meeting
Do not fail to set the expectation that you will be in frequent communication.
7) Use your body more to gesture while talking
Raise your arms, shoulders and hands to gesticulate while you talk! Research with video calls points out the huge drop-off that occurs when people can’t see the subtle—or not so subtle—movements you are making with your hands and posture. Raise your shoulders, raise your hands in the air, nod your head visibly, and wave your hands when appropriate to show excitement, surprise, dismay, or amusement and you will lift away some of the boredom with video meetings.
Use these practices to stay meticulous about remote communication. Notice how they make a difference in the other person’s level of contentment.
For more details on giving and receiving helpful feedback, take a look at
Everyday Feedback Workbook: Get Going With Honest Helpful Feedback To And From Your Team Members
Read The Feedback Imperative for more tips and strategies for leading remotely.