Dear <<First Name>>,
Do you feel disconnected, even perhaps emotionally isolated, being stuck behind your computer screen right now? Leaders feel it. Teams feel it. Every day more people are getting more isolated.
I’ve started including some fun elements in my virtual sessions that help us show our emotions and read those of our colleagues, clients, friends or family on the screen.  You can watch those in the short video, or simply continue reading.
Learning from the Deaf to Connect Well in Virtual Space

The first and perhaps most important thing to look at, is your own presence on screen. The best here is if you face the camera straight on, with good light on your face and your image showing from the waist up, so that we can see your facial expressions well and also what your hands are doing. Distracting virtual backgrounds are not helpful. And remember that eye contact on screen means looking straight into the camera, not at the people on the screen. It feels wrong at first to you, but it feels to those you are talking to that you are connecting with them when you look straight into the camera and isn’t that the most important thing?

The biggest disconnect we have online is that others in the room cannot hear or feel our emotions. When we are together, the gentlest of laughs can change the atmosphere in the room. In cyberspace there is only silence, or the voice of the person speaking. I therefore started teaching my clients to use sign language to show their emotions. We are after all in a zone where we cannot hear each other.

Do you know what applause looks like, and what it should look like? Instinctively we have simply mimicked online what we used to do in groups. We clap our hands. It’s highly ineffective in virtual space. Next time try “jazz hands”, the way deaf people applaud. It’s a party! It’s a celebration! It brings smiles all around!

If you agree with someone, you can show encouragement (the lifting of both hands palms upwards) or even a thumbs up gesture can help. If you’re neutral you can use horizontal thumbs or the floating hand gesture. If you disagree, please show with a thumbs down. Remember, they can’t hear your groan – you need to show it!

I invite you to google other emotions, like sadness, happiness, etc. Bring them to your next meeting. Or make your own. I particularly liked it when one of my participants showed that something touched her heart. She simply made a heart picture with both hands.

I want to leave you with my favourite, the virtual fist bump. Have you seen it? It goes like this: You make a fist and bring it to the camera. As you draw it back you explode your fingers outwards and make a ‘phew’ sound. It’s fun! It lifts the spirits! Especially when the whole room does it together.

I hope you found this helpful. More of the same can be found on or by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube.

Thank you. Until next week!

I’m grateful to have you in my life. Let’s together learn how to better connect in virtual space. We are emotional beings after all, we need to be able to connect this way as well and find some joy through connecting better. Fist bump to you! Phew!
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