By Brandi Hunter-Davenport
“I’m just adapting to the new normal.” I’ve heard a variation of this phrase over the course of the last week and suspect I’ll continue to hear these words more frequently as I check in with friends, family and colleagues over the course of the next several weeks.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken us to a place many of us never expected to experience in our lifetimes. These times are unpredictable, uncertain and unknown. They can be very frightening and invoke anxiety in multiple areas of our lives. We are all trying to navigate how to continue business operations, homeschool children, check on loved ones and maintain our sanity during a pandemic.
All of this individually can be overwhelming. Combined, it’s even more.
Here at Triad Strategies, we are doing all we can to support our employees as they adapt to their new work environments, while supporting individual personal needs and continuing to meet the needs of our clients.
Part of that effort includes examining what communication looks like. When you’re accustomed to being in the same physical space, with the ability to simply walk to one another’s offices, and now you’re working remotely and yelling someone’s name isn’t as easy as it once was, the dynamic of how you work together changes. There are challenges we may now face in working from remote spaces.
The question becomes what can we all do to support one another during these times and how can we proactively humanize how we communicate with one another?
In a recent webinar hosted by the Arbinger Institute, Professor Albert Mehrabian’s Communication Theory1 was explored. According to his theory:
- Words or verbal communication comprises seven percent of language.
- Tone of voice and inflection makes up 38 percent.
- Body language accounts for the majority of how we communicate is 55 percent.
Think about these numbers for a moment. If we are only communicating via email, we’re only translating seven percent of our intended communication to the recipient. When tone, inflection and body language can’t be shared in that space, there is the potential for miscommunication to occur. We need to be mindful about our messages and how they may come across.
Early in my career, I was a habitual emailer, thinking I had to respond immediately. I didn’t consider the short-term impacts to what could have been perceived as a flippant email. I didn’t consider the long-term benefits to taking a few moments to placing a phone call or scheduling an in-person discussion.
I told myself that responding quickly via email made me a super employee. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Responding within seconds, rather than taking a few moments, may not necessarily allow me to truly analyze the request made or to consider the receiver’s point of view.
I was being what the Arbinger Institute would describe as inward. I was living in my own world and not considering all perspectives or potential consequences. I just knew I had run to the finish line without truly taking in the run itself.
What I’ve since learned, as I continue growing in my career, is there is something to be said about being intentional and thoughtful in responding. I now take the time to re-read an email a few times before sending. I put myself in the receiver’s position and consider how he or she may interpret this message. If it’s topic of a sensitive nature, I pick up the phone and have a conversation. Those conversations can be via audio and/or video, but they allow for deeper connection and collaboration.
Triad is Triad is because we believe in the power and value of relationships. Relationships are sustained and increased when we take the time as individuals to connect on a human level. Yes, there is work to do, projects to complete, and deals to close.
But none of these can be accomplished if we don’t take the time to connect. Picking up the phone and just having some personal engagement can enhance the work to be accomplished in the long run.
When’s the last time you sent a colleague a note or picked up the phone and simply asked, how are you doing?
Being separated from one another physically can have some bearing on our mental health and well-being. We can become inward thinking in our processes and not as engaged in a collaborative spirit with our team members. And this isn’t intentional. It’s simply because we may not be feeling as connected to one another as we should be while we are practicing spatial distance.
Triad is utilizing a series of tools to help us stay connected as a team during this time. And we are using these same tools to remain connected with each of our clients. We are each other’s lifelines and we will get through this time together.
Stay safe and stay well.
Brandi Hunter-Davenport is a Triad Strategies senior associate.