Leaving Some “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
Nobody likes feeling left out of conversations or valued. I haven’t met anyone yet. During this crisis, the phrase “out of sight and out of mind” can become more concerning. Communication and leadership are crucial to keeping the team motivated, productive, and well-being.
These are brain-based reasons and solutions that can improve communication and collaboration, mainly via video conferences.
We all have biases that guide us through the world. One of these is the “distance bias,” which refers to our tendency to favor people who are closer in time and space. You can think back to conference calls where one person was present. They can be easily forgotten by the group or find it challenging to participate in the conversation without making others feel they have stopped the flow.
This bias is a tendency to ignore or pay less attention to people who don’t communicate regularly or are quieter than us.
It’s essential to pay attention to all members of the team and not just those who are the most active, loudest, or speak the most. Everyone should feel connected, and all strengths and knowledge should be recognized and utilized.
IN-GROUPS & OUT-GROUPS
Another bias is the in-group/out-group.
Your “in-group” are those you feel are closer to you. They are people you can relate to, have similar beliefs, and have a similar sense of humor. Because you may “get” them or work in the same way as you, you might also believe they are more trustworthy and capable.
The out-group is made up of people you have decided very differently from you. They may be challenging to get along with or have opposing values and beliefs. They may not be “understanding” you and, ultimately, not trust you. While there may be valid reasons for negative beliefs, you might not understand them or give them the attention they deserve.
People challenging the status quo and automatic thinking processes (including groupthink) can help you, the leader and your team make better decisions.
How can we improve communication while video conferencing? You can help your team navigate the challenges together by being transparent, trustworthy, empathic, and trustworthy.
Setting up a meeting:
Establish some guidelines for your meetings.
Send agendas in advance (great for introverts).
Start on time
keep meetings short (30-45 mins)
If possible, end as soon as you can (who doesn’t want to have some time back in their day?
Reduce distractions by blocking out the time, muting microphones unless you are talking, and not checking emails. Have the camera on (helps to make eye contact but also helps with focus).
To encourage participation, make the meeting as easy as possible! For easy recognition, one way to encourage participation is to create a system of naming the meetings. For example, categories could be “general, all team meetings”, “project/specific”, “121 conversations”, “brainstorming/contingency planning”. The team can get creative with their names so they can be identified on invitations and in preparation work.
Our attention span is likely to decrease during stressful situations. There may also be other distractions competing for our attention. This is important to be able to communicate clearly and concisely.
During the meeting:
At the beginning of each meeting, take some time to get to know the people and their needs.
Have fun wherever you can. A sense of humor is still essential, but a relaxed atmosphere will allow people to feel secure and safe.
People may not be talking or connecting for a variety of reasons. Introverts, discomfort with technology, and not wanting to be bothered during stressful times can all explain why people may not be talking or connecting. Encourage active listening and give everyone the chance to share their ideas.
Effective communication is possible through self-awareness, understanding your values, and being authentic. Consider who you have placed in your “out-group.” Is there a reason you did that? How do you make sure they have the opportunity to participate and be heard? Asking them to give input is a great way to start.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. Excessive confidence can cause trust and credibility to be lost. You can still be confident that you will find a way together to get through difficult situations, but you must also acknowledge the uncertainties.
Share a sense of hope and underpin it with a rational, realistic plan that is agreed upon by the team.
Use your understanding of basic motivational needs to help you understand certainty, connection, autonomy, and fairness. You can adapt your communication style to decrease stress and anxiety.
Tasks can also be affected by distance bias. Tasks that are difficult to complete remotely can be put on hold. You can brainstorm with your team about how you can deliver specific projects remotely. Effective communication with the out-group and in-group can lead to exceptional creativity, innovation, and engagement. They feel supported and understood.
Practical communication skills include self-awareness and awareness of your stress triggers. The ability to reduce the bias toward “out of sight, outside of mind” will improve inclusion and engagement in the team.