“We are joined by our hearts and our souls.” This is how RuPaul framed it this week at Cisco’s WebexOne Event.

I believe this reference was to the “magic of video conferencing” and that we are all in this together. Yet, how many times have we dreaded turning on that video camera, worrying endlessly about how messy our backgrounds look even with the quick tidying up, the way our hair looks despite the several attempts of brushing it or perhaps whether we felt like dressing casually, while we were supposed to be “at work”. RuPaul’s words could not have come at a more poignant time. The focus on this year’s #WebexOne was on Inclusivity, and RuPaul Charles and Jeetu Patel closed off the event keynote with some very thoughtful comments.  

As we continue to work remotely, how do we ensure that we truly embrace this notion of inclusivity? It’s true that we have never been more empathetic to our colleagues and their personal lives, than at the present time. Understanding how children or pets in our backgrounds can and often do interrupt our meetings is one way that allows us to be more humane when interacting with our peers. Thank goodness for the background noise reduction feature! 

Having said that, why do we shy away from turning on that camera? Yes, it’s true that there are things we can do to ensure the experience puts us in the best light (no pun intended). For example: 

  • Being near a window to let natural light in 
  • Having the computer webcam at the right angle (yes, I have learned that seeing that double chin is not very flattering) 
  • Having the computer and chair at the right height 
  • Using the virtual background when needed to avoid distractions from family members who insist upon walking behind you during that meeting with the client 

These are just a few tips to ensure a positive experience. In addition, when on a call, don’t be so busy taking notes that you can’t truly “listen” to the person facing you. That’s what Webex Assistant is for! Even Jeetu Patel (from Cisco) uses it!  

Simon Sinek’s words come to mind: “Hearing is listening to what is said. Listening is hearing what isn’t said.” Profound words indeed!  

We all work better when we truly collaborate, i.e., see and listen to each other. Video Conferencing may be the tool we use to do this, but it’s through our human interactions that we take it to the level where we make connections and build bridges with one another. Never has this been more important. After all, “we are joined by our hearts and our souls” – just take a moment and let that sink in. 

~ Fauzia Moorani, Ignite Collaboration Educator