MF 320 : Alissa Carpenter on how communication has changed in 2020
Alissa Carpenter joins us to talk about takeaways from her book that helped her to adjust in 2020 and some end of year thoughts. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
This year, Alissa’s life has been a constant flow of change and adjustment. Alissa’s book, How to Listen and How to Be Heard, made its debut in spring, while she and her family have all been working or attending school from home. As we speak about the year, Alissa thoughtfully tries to sum up this year, naming “balance,” and ” restraint” as two candidates before settling on “a crazy roller coaster.”
That “roller coaster” has shifted Alissa’s business, which is based on meetings, conferences and speaking events, to a wholly virtual model.
Takeaways from Alissa’s book that helped navigate this shift
Alissa starts by taking us back in time to when she wrote her book. She candidly reflects how some chapters, including one on office furniture arrangements, were written during what seems like a far off age when we were still going into offices. Now, those chapters are applicable to working from home and the delicate negotiations with family over limited space and with employers over keeping home and work life separate.
Despite this, the overall theme and heart of the book, which deals with better communication between employers and employees, is timeless and arguably more relevant than ever. This is especially true as we’ve shifted to largely virtual modes of communication with Zoom and video chats. As companies must now balance safety concerns with different geographic rules and regulations, this further complicates employer-employee communication dynamics.
To that end, Alissa shares a critical point from her book. It’s vital that organizations understand the 1) best way and 2) the best modes for communicating, based on employee preference (and comfort level) and the subject matter; i.e. whether it’s standard everyday business or urgent or emergency-related messages.
Balancing accessibility expectations while working from home
One of the big issues that Alissa identifies with her clients is expectations that come with a virtual work situation. For many companies, especially those that have never had a virtual work situation for their employees prior to this year, there is often a misunderstanding that “work from home” means being accessible 24 / 7. This inevitably creates conflicts between employers and employees that inhibits effective communication. Alissa works with her clients to ensure that they can find the appropriate balance between accessibility and maintaining the separation between work and home responsibilities.
Communication technology is another factor. This year, video conferencing has become the new norm, resulting in many employees experiencing “Zoom fatigue.”
One way Alissa helps her clients navigate this complicated and ever-changing dynamic of employer-employee relationships is with what she calls “communication checkups.” These are important spot checks to assess when video conferencing is necessary, and when an email, text or phone call will suffice. Alissa adds that these conversations should not only look at how things are working out now but should plan for the next year and beyond.
Create new experiences and traditions, especially as we’re not able to do the things we’ve done in holiday’s past right now. Make the best of the situation while embracing the fond memories of holiday past.
Alissa’s book “How to Listen and How to Be Heard”
Audiobook is available now!
Course: DE&I Intention to Action
Alissa’s TEDx Talk
Connect with Alissa
Subscribe to Alissa’s podcast Humanize Your Workplace