Challenging the Way We Communicate

Communicating During a Pandemic

Did you know that verbal communication consists of 93% body language and paralinguistic cues (voice tone, pauses, volume, etc.) with the remaining 7% consisting of the actual words. That means body language speaks a lot louder than the words you actually say! In our new normal of face masks, social distancing, working from home, and increased electronic correspondence, communication during COVID has evolved and made it more difficult to interpret body language and facial expressions.

Before COVID, Paragon presented our prestigious network annual awards in person at NBAA-BACE. With no convention this year, we were thinking about having some sort of virtual awards ceremony instead. In the back of my head, presenting the awards virtually just didn’t seem to have as much pizzazz or significance. There is something to be said for presenting these awards in person – to me, it shows that these awards and the winning recipients are important and worth my time and money. Therefore, I made the executive decision to make surprise visits to two of our network FBOs and congratulate them in-person with awards in-hand.

We went all out to celebrate our FBO Member of the Year and make them feel special with catering for the entire team, balloons, personalized cookies, champagne, even hired a professional photographer to capture the exciting moment. I’m telling you, to see their smiles and the excitement of their faces was priceless!

People need human interaction now more than ever. When you communicate face-to-face, everyone is more present, more invested, and less distracted. With COVID hindering face-to-face interactions, video conferencing such as Zoom or Facetime is the next best option followed by phone calls and finally written communication like emails, texts, and social media. We held monthly Zoom meetings long before COVID because our FBOs span across the world. For our members to get to know each other better and to improve non-verbal cues, we ask everyone to participate with their cameras turned on. If they don’t have a webcam, we send them one. That’s how important it is to me to see their faces.

I have heard over the past few months by a number of people that “I’ve sent an email, but haven’t received a response.” Think about that, if you find yourself following up a lot, are you only utilizing email to communicate? If you are, you miss out on the other forms of communication to ensure you your audience is receiving the message you are trying to send. Additionally, there is an abundance of emails being sent daily combined with the other online ways to send/receive messages like LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, text messaging, etc. It makes it incredibly overwhelming to stay on top of day-to-day responsibilities especially if you have multiple children doing online learning due to COVID-19!

How many times do you delete an email without opening it because the subject line doesn’t interest you? How many times have you perceived an email to be rude when in actuality it was not intended that way? How many times are you multi-tasking during a Zoom call when your camera is not on? Would you ever randomly walk away from a face-to-face conversation? Most likely not.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use email. I do believe that nothing replaces face-to-face interaction. It builds better camaraderie, gives understanding of non-verbal gestures, and reduces miscommunication…even if sometimes you can only see half of their face with a mask.




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