The power of language

We have all been dealing with “social distancing” for months. The words themselves have a huge impact. It seems as if you are no longer allowed to have or to make social contact with each other.

Language and the power of language fascinate me because language affects us more than you might realize. Language is something we use daily and frequently. Because, all the images we see, the sounds we hear, and the feelings we experience come back through words: our language. Language is, in a way, the vehicle of our communication.

I, therefore, prefer to use the words “physical distancing”. This better reflects what it is really about; keeping a physical distance.

The present reality

We also had to adapt quite a bit at work. We have all found some kind of mode to combine work and private life, work together online, and get the work done. But what about keeping and maintaining the connection with each other?

And you may recognize this. You miss the real contact with each other, the coffee talks or hearing things through the grapevine, you find it difficult to have the right conversation online and you miss human interaction, feeling other people’s energy.

So what is connection really?

For me, real connection or being connected with each other means showing compassion and empathy, building relationships, and giving each other feedback, so that you can continue to learn and develop. Because the latter, giving feedback, is only done if you care about someone or if you think the other person is important enough.

Fascinating

What concerned me before, but even more fascinating during this period, is the effect of online collaboration.

I myself have a number of teenagers who were much more used to maintaining contacts via their smartphone. Recently I asked my daughter what she was doing when I saw her tapping on her smartphone. She replied that she was talking to her friends. She calls that talking, via Snapchat, eh. Fortunately, I now see that my children also meet offline again and are happy that they can go to school again. So, in the end, they also miss physical contact, just like many others.

Possible effects of long-term use of online means of communication

The fact that this generation already maintains many online relationships and contacts with each other. The fact that we are all forced by circumstances to do this more and more, does pose a risk.

We lose the ability to address each other and are less likely, or sometimes not at all, confronted with the effect on the other by what you say or do because you simply do not perceive it. It makes it easier to express yourself negatively, not to listen to someone sincerely, and thus not give the other person the attention we all so desperately need.

Non-verbal communication

So not only the new generation but also the current generation, who work with each other for too long without an image, lose the ability to recognize the non-verbal communication because we are no longer used to it.

Just think of what you normally perceive: the facial expressions, such as an eyebrow that is raised, a frown on the forehead, a smile, rolling eyes, or hand gestures.

Or what you hear in the other person’s voice; talking softer or louder, emphasizing certain words, a sigh or a laugh.

How to stay socially connected?

Fortunately, we all still have all our senses; sight, hearing, and touch, whereby the latter cannot be used online. The other 2 are. So, you will be able to pay more attention to what you see and hear. You will use your other senses more consciously.

Tips when building a connection through working online:

  1. Always turn on your camera so that you can see the other person well and vice versa.
  2. Use your sense of hearing more consciously by listening to how the other person says it (think of pitch, tempo, volume, rhythm, pauses)
  3. Use your sense sight more consciously by really looking at the other person’s facial expression.
  4. Focus and give genuine attention to the other person, so don’t do other activities or things in between.
  5. Take the time to pay real attention to each other by consciously making time to talk to each other about non-work-related matters.
  6. Make it more fun by asking a surprising question or introducing a game format (numerous examples can be found on the internet)

And? How will you maintain and improve the online connection with your colleagues?