Here are 5 ways 2020 changed how we communicate:
1. A window into your home
‘Dress to impress’ was the adage pre-2020 to remind us that people judge the visual as much as our content in communicating. Now we must think one step further thanks to the rise in video calls. We need to ‘window dress’ our backgrounds as every video call allows a little window into our homes. This is all the more obvious when we see reporters, journalists and interviewees in their homes on TV news – sometimes it’s hard to believe that they haven’t thought more about their backgrounds because whether we like it or not, this gets judged as much as we ourselves do.
2. Interpreting communications through a mask
So much of how we communicate is nuanced in micro facial expressions but for much of this year we’ve been communicating with each other through a mask. It means that we need to work harder with both our words and our tone of voice to convey more explicitly the sentiment of what we’re saying.
3. New language adopted instantaneously
New terminology has emerged constantly that is suddenly the jargon on everybody’s lips. Furlough, pandemic, Covid, PPE and of course, festive bubbles – which meant something entirely different in previous years!
4. Greetings with elbow bumps
Physical contact is a primal need. Will we return to shaking hands when the world returns to normal? People may take different approaches. Expect some awkward moments when we do go back to some face-to face meetings.
5. Gathering as groups online
Last but not least is of course, the omnipresence of video calls and meetings as working from home became the standard practice. Again, we’ve lost a lot the subtlety that body language brings into communicating. This has led to some bumpy moments on Zoom calls such as speaking over one another or where everyone has their camera turned off and you feel you are speaking into a void!
We think these changes demonstrate the incredible ability humans have in adapting to their circumstances. It will be interesting to observe in 2021 which of these new habits in communicating we keep or if we’ll revert back to old ways. Or perhaps more likely there will be a combination… transparent face masks anyone?