In the fast-paced business arena, nobody has the sort of time to waste dedicated to going into personal details. Sure a little bit of talk around the water cooler could lead to better working relationships, but the truth of the matter in terms of videoconferencing is that we just simply don’t have the time to really relish on small talk.
No Need to Be Ruthless
So how do you keep things professional without hurting the feelings of somebody on your team? There is a certain desire to not let these emotions enter into your professional environment. After all when it is time to get down to rolling the sleeves up and getting to work there simply isn’t time for the sort of banter that takes away from productivity. The important thing to remember when you go about realizing this is to simply remind yourself that the person on the other side of the video monitor has a life beyond work.
For a lot of people, having a social life comes far down on the totem pole when compared to other life necessities such as family and paying the bills. For this reason, that person that is going on about the horrible car accident, or the death of a loved one, might not necessarily have a big group of friends to talk to about the emotional trauma. It certainly isn’t the sort of communication that you want going on when you are ready to get down to business but how do you adequately say “shut up” without causing a little tear in the professional relationship that you are trying to maintain.
The Kindly Reminder
The kindly reminder is always fun. It works for a little bit. You tell the Chatty Kathy to stay in line and he or her just looks at you blindly. They may stay on task for awhile but odds are, more times than many, the behavior simply resurfaces. When it does resurface, this isn’t necessarily a reflection of not following standard protocol. Instead, it may in fact be, a good indicator that your team member is truly experiencing something that they need to get off their chest. Five minutes of time may seem like a lot to dedicate to somebody when you are busy on the task list, but those simple five minutes could go beyond simply helping you stay on task, you could essentially be helping save a coworker from a terrible personal downward spiral.
We Just Simply Never Know
No matter what we do we simply do not know the full extent of what is going on behind closed doors. We all know how easy it can be to put on face and push down all of the personal matters that get into the way of excelling in the professional sphere. There certainly is never enough time in the day, every minute certainly counts.
By simply recalling that the person on the other side has an entire life that you aren’t aware of you can begin to open up a channel of empathy and understanding. It is critical to a healthy working environment to, once in awhile, take the brief time to get to know other members on your team. Video conferencing is especially beneficial to cutting company costs, reducing travel, and helping you actually put a face behind many of the names that you have been working on in regard to a given subject.
Install a Free For All Talk Time
Give your team a few minutes at the beginning, just as you would any meeting, for a little bit of that friendly banter that helps establish better working relationships. Give the team five or ten minutes, talk about something going on in the world. Make it work related if you want to, but it may be better to simply establish the fact that you all recognize that there is a world beyond the simple project that you are working on.
Once you step into this realization you can then begin to pull the team back together so that you can focus without the distraction of what some of the more personal matters and distractions can cause. Set a timer if you must. Give the team five to ten minutes to just kick back and talk about the World Series if necessary.
Just the Way it Goes
There will certainly be times when there is no available time whatsoever for giving your team the ability to talk casually. But if you do not take the time to give your team members that sort of opportunity you could be shooting yourself in the foot in the long run. We all have to work. We all balance a hectic personal and professional lifestyle. The more we reach out to those in our lives as people and less as a cog in the machine, the better and stronger a work environment can grow without causing dissonance between coworkers. A little bit of personal talk can go along way.