By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q: I fought for years to work from home and now I have to work from home. I'm glad remote work is acceptable but struggling with how to do the interpersonal stuff when home alone. Do you have ideas you are teaching clients on working remotely?
A: Technology can complicate or facilitate relationships. Interpersonal skills are critical now because our remote work uses technology with low human interaction. The idea of high touch/high tech means we work harder at human connections when using remote technology.
Practical suggestions are:
1) Make time to connect with people that matter to you. Set up phone dates where you do more than dash to meet a deadline. Ask how they are doing and actually listen. The stress we are under can connect or divide us.
2) During phone calls pay attention to the music in voices. Research tells us only 7% conversational meaning is carried by words, 38% is in vocal tone, and the rest in body language. When you only have words and tone of voice if you don't listen attentively to tone you'll miss 38% of what's happening.
3) During video meetings, watch facial expressions, hand movements, and body postures with interest. Words can lie but our bodies always tell the truth. If you're confused about nonverbal meanings, ask yourself how you feel when you use the posture you don't understand in another.
Everyone is a lot more emotional right now. We're facing many unknowns in our finances, employment, families, health and society. Work hard right now to consider that however people are responding to you there's a good chance it has nothing to do with you.
The less personally you take people's reactions, the greater your chance to have influence. People that can maintain a tranquil head and heart in the middle of crisis inspire trust and model leadership.
In so many places socially there's an emphasis on tearing down. There's less emphasis on creating something better. We need our diversity, our respect for each other, and collaboration to find solutions.
Our country is on a precipice of vast, transformative and needed changes. The way we work, worship, live and are governed are all liquefying with the chance to be poured into better forms. The more we trust ourselves to be resilient, others to learn through suffering, and the process of life itself the better we'll fare.
There's a bigger process afoot on planet earth than just COVID-19, or just racism. We're slowly (given that our species is darn stubborn) realizing we have to work together or we will die separately. We cannot afford to judge each other, destroy each other, and refuse to accept the help we all need.
We've transformed as individuals before, and even as countries but never had the challenge of transforming so profoundly as a species. Ancient cultures often installed figures of guardian gods at crossroads. These cultures believed crossroads were dangerous places for travelers. So here we are on this journey together facing multiple crossroads with the potent combination of both danger and opportunity.
Take the challenges day by day, work to trust the process unfolding within you and without, and appreciate you have the privilege of being alive witnessing a potential global shift in how we work with each other to create a better future!
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru.”. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006).