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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Feb 2, 2024


Research demonstrates a risk of detachment and reduced connection on video calls. This week we explore ways to be more real when we’re not meeting in-person.



Hello and welcome to episode 217 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we look at how to be more real on video calls.

We make rapid judgements about people based on visual and other information we receive. While this can lead to us making incorrect judgements when we meet people in-person, the risk is increased through video calls.

Research demonstrates an increased risk that we treat a visual representation of someone as less real than if we meet them in-person. On a video call we can treat other people as abstract rather than real. This effect is likely increased on a call that has audio and video challenges.

In experiments, participants viewed others as having fewer conscious feelings and less ability to make free choices than when meeting in-person.

As a leader, this could make us seem detached and lacking empathy during the conversation. It can, in turn, lead us to give less ethical consideration to the person on the other end of the video call. Our decision making may lack the warmth, concern and consideration that we would normally provide. So what can we do about this?

When making video calls, we need to be conscious of the risk of detachment and make conscious effort to see people as real human beings. Here are some tips to try:

  1. Connect as human beings first. Rather than just getting straight down to business, spend a few minutes enquiring about the other person, how they are, and what they have been doing. You might share something personal about yourself to enhance this connection.
  2. Ask open questions. When we treat people as an object rather than a person, we can tend to “talk at” people rather than “talk with” people. Asking open questions helps avoid this trap.
  3. Increase your ethical consideration. Explore the impact of any decisions you are making upon people. Great decisions are a combination of logic and emotion.
  4. Acknowledge the challenge. You might share this research with your team members. This will help everyone to manage the risk of detachment.
  5. Make the most of in-person opportunities. When you do meet together in-person, use this time to connect on a personal level. Save more administrative activities to video calls and don’t waste the time you have physically together.

Give these tips a try on your next video call, and we can all become more real.


Research summary -



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