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Building Human Connections in a Digital Environment

Like many companies in this technology-enabled, globally connected environment, Promet Source operates with clients and team members all over the world. This reality creates a challenge for communications. The truth is, the more we put into our interactions, the more we get out of them.

The first step: not neglecting to turn on the camera during video calls. It's tempting to think that the camera doesn't matter -- that all that matters is the substance of what's being said relative to the task at hand. Sometimes, avoidance of video is driven by shyness or a lack of knowledge of video communications, or maybe a bad-hair day.

The opportunity to be heard and seen is essential. 


Eye-Opening Experience

Lately I’ve started using more face-to-face open communications with clients, collaborators and internally. It brings a higher level of empathy, honesty and receptivity to the conversations. It’s been like going from a gray-scale image to a sudden, colorful world, and has provided an important step toward building trust and strengthening ties.

A couple weeks ago, I was on a call with a collaborator and a team member whom I’ve been working with for more than two months.

That day, I turned on my camera even though up to that point, these calls had been "all business." None of us had felt a need to see each other's faces to accomplish the task at hand. 

As I we proceeded with the call, my co-worker followed suit and also turned on his camera. We were able to see each other's faces for the first time in more than two months of working together. It made a difference.

Next, our collaborator did the same. The conversation was instantly raised up to another level. Once one of us opened up, others felt empowered to open up as well. It was like a chain reaction or “Domino Effect.”


A New Dimension

We could comment about our surroundings, our clothes, our hair, what was going on in our lives and in our parts of the world!  We were able to get talking and build rapport so much more easily.

The collaboration on the call became alive and we got more out of it than if we had not had the advantage of video.

Looking back on this conversation, it would be easy to say that it was video that made the difference, but that was only one aspect. It was empathy that drove the emotional connection. 

The cameras helped. We were also willing to open ourselves up to a more honest dialog, sharing something personal, becoming available and responsive to each other. 


The Key: Trust

Trust your teammates. Trust your clients. Trust your collaborators. Trust that there is value in what you have to share.

Here’s what I’ve concluded are the keys to successful interactions even when working across multiple time zones.


Lead by Example

Be confident and share honestly. Let other people see you and hear you. Let your emotions shine through your expressions (facial expressions, expressions through the tone of your voice, the words you choose, etc.) 

Open up and people will trust you, and they will be more likely to open up too.  The Domino Effect can be very exciting.


Leverage Human Interaction

Promet Source is a leading practitioner of human-centered design. We know what it means to design for humans and we facilitate human-centered design workshops all over the country to enhance effectiveness and outcomes.

Just as we consistently emphasize that we are designing for humans, we are careful to not lose sight of the fact that we are designing by humans.


Strengthen Teams through Sharing

Too often, the left brain, technology-driven environment in which we operate ignores the powerful impact of the human element in all of our engagements. Even when separated by borders and time zones, efforts to connect on a personal level pays off in ways that are often unanticipated.

Have you found this to be the case? Share your thoughts in the comment section below on why and how connecting on a human level can drive better outcomes.

Sharing your thoughts and experiences can go a long way toward a greater sense of connection and community in our dispersed, digital world.