Communication. How we describe events and experiences shapes our attitude to them.

The word language comes from the Greek word logos, which means category or concept.

With language we categorise, we distinguish and we create our reality. Whilst there are different opinions about to what extent this works, the way we describe things is a powerful contributor to the way that we experience them.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought ~ George Orwell

In projects, it’s one of our guiding principles in the ‘6R Team Playbook’ that we name things plainly.

Avoid jargon

We try to avoid jargon where possible (at least until everyone has learned the new terminology).

If we mean people, we say people rather than the very dry and somewhat demeaning project terminology ‘resources’, which can refer to either people or other resources (financial, technical or physical).

For our projects, we look to name meetings in a way that gives the meeting meaning.

For example, we used to have a meeting called ‘State of the Nation’, which was about where everything was up to and what state it was in. Having a meeting name that describes the meeting and hopefully makes it easy to remember.

I like names that also describe what happens in the meeting.

The way we describe our meetings and our experiences, particularly right now, shape how we see what’s going on.

The words we choose matters

One of the descriptions I keep reinforcing with my daughter is that we’re in confinement (at our house at least, I do not speak for everyone).

We are not in quarantine because no one at our house is sick; we are not in isolation because we have each other – our friends and our family are there on video, and phones and apps.

We have not been locked up (or down) because we are still able to go and get the essentials or do things that keep us from going completely bonkers.

We are physically distancing from one another, not ‘socially’ distancing. We need to be more socially connected now than ever in order to help one another through this.

My daughter’s school have been very clear that they are in ‘temporary off-campus learning’. Whilst it has resulted in eye rolls from teenagers, it does describe what’s going on.

It’s temporary, which is not forever, although I am sure for many students and parents who are working in the same space, that it probably feels interminably long.

It’s off-campus – meaning that we’re not at school campus but where students are might not be at ‘home’.

It’s still learning, and my are we learning; to adapt, to accept and to be creative about our new circumstances.

Remain visible

Nothing really replaces face to face exchanges. There is something very useful about being able to ‘read the mood’ of a room.

We know that up to 10,000 non-verbal cues can be exchanged in one minute of face-to-face interaction, so turn on the camera!

It’s not quite the same as being in the same room, but it really helps to be able to at least see another face.

Video meeting tools will be the new essential for building relationships with teams.

I know that learning new things is hard and re-share some tips to smooth the way.

I have worked some days from home for a while, and whilst I used to cherish this time at my desk, I am now getting a bit sick of the same view.

So mix it up, working some days from the kitchen table and some on the couch and finding the best light for zoom calls around the house.

Whilst it sounds silly, it is really important for me to get dressed in work clothes and put in a bit of effort to create the right mood for myself.

It’s been weeks since I’ve done makeup but I’m embracing lipstick, at the moment, as a way to feel like I’m ‘at work’.

Energy matters

If you, as the meeting facilitator, are flat or come across as ‘over it’ – it makes it hard for the team to bring the right energy to the table.

When we show up as team leaders with positivity and empathy for our teams, then they can tell we care.

Better listening can help improve project outcomes, which I share here.

Even if you’re not on video, smile when you speak. People can hear it in your voice ????

Tips for communication in confinement:

  • Apart from the obvious (make sure if you’ve got the camera on that you’re dressed ????).
  • Choose language carefully (avoid jargon, people are people not resources).
  • Name meetings and milestones in a way that makes them memorable.
  • Turn the camera on – you need the visual cues as much as possible right now.
  • Make a bit of effort on the presentation side of things, it will give you a bit of a lift.
  • Energy is contagious, empathy and care are part of what your team needs.

And if all else fails, move your ‘desk’ around to give you a lift and a change of pace; it might well improve the way you communicate with your team.

If you or your team are struggling with the best way to navigate during this time, get in touch.  We work with retailers to equip internal teams for the project efforts ahead. Our project management tools are light and flexible for retailers.

The 6R team work behind the scenes, leading through project management, testing, training and team building to deliver project success.