Social distancing fatigue has set it. There are people we wish we could be with. Even as we are constantly reminded of the danger of this virus, we want to hug people and share emotional experiences with them. Whether it is a pivotal team meeting or a tender moment of friendship, with a bit of ingenuity, you can find ways to deepen human connection over the internet.
Let Your Body Speak
Zoom fatigue comes from trying to exchange a wide range of nuance through a compressed bandwidth more narrow than we’re used to. Our most tender feelings are communicated through the body. Instead of giving up on subtle nuance, use the fact that people are open to try new things. They will let you engage their bodily awareness in the conversation more than you think.
In a poignant moment, ask a person to pause and tell you where is that feeling in their body. With a gentle inviting tone, ask them to say more about what this feeling is like. “When it is in your [chest] does it have a color or temperature?” We recently had a person give the self doubt he was feeling a sound and all of us online instantly resonated. We knew exactly what he was feeling and, in that empathy, his doubt lifted.
Attune your body as an instrument of communication. Before a significant call, breathe, meditate or exercise so you are available to feel in your body what the other bodies in the virtual room are feeling.
Engage the Senses
Think about the human purpose for each call: how do I want the group to think, feel and act by the end? The medium is the message. If you want them engaged, you need to do something engaging on the call. For example, instead of the usual discussion of a thorny problem, have each participant in turn be CEO for the day and tell us what he or she would do.
We love designing the format to push people’s comfort zone. Something new each time. If you want them alert, then explore risks, dangers and threats. If you want them to feel valued, do a round of celebrating your wins. If you want to mark a rite of passage with a beautiful memory, activate the senses. We have even arranged for people on a call to smell the same flower before getting online or taste the same cake.
Over the coming months, we expect to see a slue of innovations that seek to share deeper human connection without physical in-person contact. For any of that to work depends on you paying attention to what you—and those closest to you—are feeling moment to moment. Those who value authentic communication, will keep finding ways to lift people’s hearts and empathize with their challenges. Please share your experiences by reply email (email@example.com) or in the comments below.