Monday, January 31, 2022

Yes, Going Back to the Office Means Talking to Humans


As more people head back into the office this year, there will be adjustments.

Some may be a bit silly of course (no more wearing pajama bottoms with a button-down shirt like you did for Zoom calls) while others will require more serious focus, such as learning to interact in person with more people all day long.

In fact, I'll bet more people than are willing to admit are a bit intimidated by the thought of those casual conversations that used to be a regular part of our day before the pandemic hit.

Do you even remember how to have an interesting, off-the-cuff conversation? 

If you're a little anxious about having casual interactions with colleagues or even bosses, here are a few things to think about:

  • Don't try to be great. No one is expecting anyone to be a sparkling conversationalist after  more than a year of working remotely. Just by simply listening to the other person and giving him or her your undivided attention (no nervously glancing for an exit or looking at your phone) you will have set yourself up to respond naturally to the speaker.
  • This is a good thing. After such a long time apart, think about how nice it is to see a colleague in person. Think of the opportunity you now have to strengthen a bond with this person, and to have more straightforward interactions without the hassle of a spotty Internet connection or one of your dog's howling in the background. This will help you relax and interact more naturally.
  • Take advantage of the situation. There were probably several times during remote interactions where you wished you could pull someone aside more casually and ask them to give you the informal "scoop" on something or explain a situation in more detail -- but a Zoom call with the entire staff didn't make it easy. Now that you can have more casual conversations in person, you take take better advantage of someone's input or knowledge and perhaps make your job easier and more rewarding.
Remember that everyone is going through some kind of adjustment as more people return to work in person. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and expect things will be easy in the beginning. By focusing on the positive aspects of casual, in-person interactions, it will make the events more enjoyable and less stressful.

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