From the desk of Wendy Placko, New Business Development and Digital Project Lead
When I’ve been chatting with clients and colleagues (virtually, of course) lately, I keep hearing a common thread that I’d like to address. They are self-shaming about “how long it’s taking” or “how they should already know” all of the new technologies they are having to adapt to quickly.
The New Normal’s Tech Needs
A lot of changes happened overnight in how we communicate for business. We went from having coffee or in-person meetings (now a distant memory) to communicating over lots of video conferences. And not just one platform for video conferences. No no, you need to learn Zoom, Google Meet, Google Hangouts (why is it different?!), GoToMeeting, Webex and more. Plus, you have to make sure you look nice and are providing clear audio without interference. On top of all those variables, you are at the mercy of your internet connection. If it lags, you will sound like a robot or cut out entirely.
Give Yourself a Break
Usually we don’t treat ourselves like we would a friend. If your bestie came to you and said, “Gosh, I look like an idiot at work,” you would tell them they are great and doing their best. Tell yourself the same thing. You are doing your best, and even though some people make this new technology look easy, they have struggled too.
Ask for Help and Build Empathy Across Generations
A number of people I have spoken with say they are “too old” to be using all of these technologies. They are intimidated by their younger colleagues who were born in a generation that always had the internet. The good news is that everyone encounters the occasional frustration and we can break some stigmas by reaching out for help. The next time your headset is on the fritz, mention it to someone on your team who you assume is a tech whiz. You’ll likely get an answer like, “Huh, I haven’t run into that before.” And you’ll feel better.
On the other hand, if you are a young whipper snapper who hasn’t dealt with as many issues adapting to our new way of working, try to build some empathy by sharing your own frustrations with someone who is obviously struggling. Another kind gesture could be to thank that person for being willing to put up with this new way of working to protect the health of the team.
Other Ways to Boost Your Tech Confidence
A great way to alleviate anxiety over something is to be prepared. Fear often stems from unknowns, and there are a few things you can do to eliminate unknowns or have a Plan B on hand if you need it.
You can always fall back on a trusty phone call.
If your audio is giving you trouble, your video is freezing out because of your internet, etc., you can always use the dial-in audio option on a call.
Practice video conferencing with friends and family.
If you are feeling uncomfortable with the tools you have, schedule a few gatherings with people you trust so you can practice the features. A fun Zoom background is also something to giggle over.
Make small goals for yourself.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. See if you can make one improvement at a time. If colleagues say they can’t see you well, you could start with finding better lighting in week one. If you have distracting noises in your background at home, experiment with using headphones/muting when you aren’t speaking during week two. Chip away at issues slowly.
Remember What Really Matters
As the old adage goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Try to think of the bigger picture when you are living through small frustrations. Sure, it took you five minutes to get your equipment working properly at the start of the meeting, but you were able to laugh it off and connect with someone who needed your help. Okay, so maybe you cut out a bit during your pitch because your home internet lagged, but it was really thoughtful of your colleague to jump in, acknowledge the issue and translate what they thought you were trying to say. A little perspective can go a long way.