Recently I was on a video call with a small team. Most of the people on the call were engaged, participating, and connected. One person, however, stood out.
He sighed with frustration. He dropped his head into his hands. He covered his eyes, rubbing his face.
What was going on? Nothing really negative was happening on the call, yet he seemed completely out of sorts. And his behavior was affecting other people in the meeting. I got a text: “Hey, is he mad at me? Did I say something wrong?”
Nothing any of us were doing was causing his behavior. He was just supremely unaware of the fact that his despondent attitude was affecting us.
There are two things I want to point out about this. The first is that this person was a leader on the team; he had status and influence. Because of that, people were paying more attention to any signals he was giving than they would be to someone of lower status in the meeting.
Second, people really are watching others’ facial expressions and body language to gauge how things are going. This is especially true on video calls, but also in person. If you’re speaking and you look across your to see two people clearly on their phones and one person with their head in their hands, well, it probably doesn’t feel like things are going well at all.
This may sound obvious, but remember that other people can see you. Remember that, especially if you are a leader, everything you do is sending a signal. And just because you’re on your fifth video call of the day and you’re sitting in your house, you’re still visible, and what you do matters.
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