Stressed male businessman having his break while drinking tea
Do people really need to know that you are a little stressed out?
In a normal work situation, I would argue – sure.
You could go to the office and let people know you had a rough night with the kids, or you could feel grumpy about starting a new diet (to me: relatable). Your body language, tone of voice, behavior, and even your general mood suggest you need a break, but we only have a set number of vacation days, so …
In the past, we could explain our stress to colleagues outside of meetings or perhaps in the parking lot. We’d hop around a little and lead soldiers on through meetings. It was okay, and I remember doing that a few times.
These days, the low level of stress of being locked out, working remotely, hearing from family members who have the virus, and a general feeling of despair means that some of us (most of us?) In a constant state of mild anxiety are.
A long time ago I heard a comment about people who are always on stage for their work. Music artists, speakers – they love the spotlight. The comment I heard is that these are people who are best when they are on stage and performing. It’s their sweet spot. All of their talents and aptitudes, personality traits, passions and interests can be seen right in front of you. I’ve met some of these celebs in person, and some have admitted they’re not that good at keeping their accounts or answering emails.
To go deeper, some of them are total idiots offstage. They don’t know how not to appear. You have problems with people under normal circumstances. I once interviewed a musician who was abusive and rude the whole time. I thought, you probably wouldn’t spend a day at Starbucks, but you make millions playing guitar and singing.
At a Zoom meeting, some of us are not at our best. Studies have shown that staring at a screen in general can cause stress, which is a cause of zoom fatigue. Now add in the actual stress. It’s no wonder people look more confused and confused. Some of us love to be “on stage” with Zoom, others less so. That’s perfectly fine.
With a lot of the Zoom calls I’ve made, especially because I’ve been working on a book recently, it’s clear that people don’t always enjoy turning the camera on. Another interesting point I found is that your visual senses make up about 30% of your brain power, compared to only about 3% when you hear. Your brain works overtime when you stare at people at zoom.
Switching off the camera is absolutely guaranteed. I’ve been on Zoom calls where people have commented, “This person always turned the camera off,” and the truth is we should all lower our expectations. It’s okay to just use audio, even if you’re not sending as many visual cues as those who want to keep the video going all day. You can give the same feedback orally. You can take part in any discussion. If your post is better than using Zoom like it was a phone call, then there is no fault. Think of this as your official permission.
At the same time, I’d argue that there are times when it’s okay to reveal more about yourself. Turn on the camera every now and then if you want to show that you are stressed. This works the same way in a physical office. You can get your job done in isolation, but if you visit the break room people may know that you are dealing with a little bit of fear. And that’s good.
Telling a little about fear is healthy, it means people can help. In the current lockdown of waiting for the vaccine to be available to everyone, it’s okay to stay a little dark. There’s no shame in keeping a part of your life hidden on most zoom calls.