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Using "Zoom Styles"​ To Be More Effective (and happier) Working Remotely

II was recently asked to develop a workshop about how to be more effective working virtually. . . how to create boundaries, how to stop working at all hours, how to start working when you are stuck, how to stop being everything to everyone, how to get what you need and how to give others more of what they need. . . The rub is that there is no one size fits all advice to give. The way to be more effective at remote work depends on what we will call "Zoom Types."

Humans can be categorized into four distinct groups based on how we behave. We have been using similar categorizations since the ancient Greeks. These buckets don't cover every nuance and circumstance, but they do generalize just enough to be incredibly useful. And fortunately, these four buckets can be mapped onto Zoom behaviors. Hippocrates would be pleased!

The theory behind the behavioral types or Interaction Styles can be found in the groundbreaking model by Linda Berens. Understanding your own Style and the Style of each member of your team can profoundly impact your ability to be effective as a leader. The four Interaction Styles are: Behind the Scenes, Get Things Going, Chart the Course, and In Charge.

Each Style has its own unique characteristics and way of communicating and relating to the world to try to get their needs met. Understanding these Styles can help you get more out of online calls and can help you be more effective in communicating with your boss, your peers and your direct reports. You don't have to be an expert on these categories but if you can quickly size up your team members to determine which Style they naturally gravitate towards, you can learn to adapt your Style and help everyone become more productive. And you'll look like a master problem solver in the process!

1. The Behind the Scenes aka "Don't Call on Me" Style - You can easily lose this Style on a group call if you don't draw them in. They are less likely to initiate and often dislike being put on the spot. If you want to get the best output from this Style you will benefit greatly from giving them the all the data ahead of time, leaving time to prepare and approaching them gently. Don't rush them.

When on Zoom with this Style:

  • Use a quiet, slow, friendly tone

  • Smile, think “laid back” and casual

  • Show that you are listening

  • Have a helpful attitude

  • Get their input, invite questions

2. The Get Things Going aka "Call on Me Now" Style - A person with this Style probably set up your first Zoom "happy hour". They can't wait to talk on Zoom and are frustrated when they are put on mute! If you want to get the best output from this Style invite their participation right away. They can't wait to tell you what they've been working on.

When on Zoom with this Style:

  • Use a warm, expressive tone

  • Be energetic, even jovial

  • Be prepared to listen

  • Add in elements of fun

  • Use storytelling and examples

3. The Chart the Course aka "Can This Zoom Be An Email" Style - This Style probably does not want to be on the Zoom to begin with. They are really busy and do not have a need to talk things out. If you want to get the best output from this Style, send your questions ahead of time and be prepared with specific requests.

When on Zoom with this Style:

  • Go slow, be brief

  • Be matter of fact and less personal

  • Be systematic and specific

  • Give a sense that things under control

  • Provide the opportunity to ask questions

4. The In Charge Style aka "I Don't Zoom for Longer than 30 Minutes!" Style - This Style will happily jump on a Zoom call as they prefer the face to face interaction. But don't waste their time! If you want to get the best output from this Style come prepared and don't digress. They don't have all day and want to keep things moving.

When on Zoom with this Style:

  • Be brief, cordial, direct and fast paced

  • Explain goals and give main points

  • Ask for exactly what you want!

  • Don’t digress, yet stay friendly

  • Assure them that you will get answers

  • Summarize the actions (i.e,. who will do what and when!)

Applying these "tips and tricks" will help you communicate more effectively, allow your teams to get more out of one another and will help YOU all stay sane on the endless Zoom loop!

If you are looking to better manage or participate in a remote team or if you need help navigating the new normal at work - contact me at to set up a free consultation! I am coaching virtually and offering 'Zoom' discounts! I'd love to help you achieve your goals and be happier working remotely!

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