Yet more video conferences and online meetings! Suffer silently or smile at it? Part 10 of the blog series: Influencing yourself and others

Lockdown light in Germany. Lockdown tough in many other countries. For most this means: yet more home office. And even more video conferences. The consequence: Serious sighing about the fact that online meetings just won't stop. Four more weeks of looking into my colleague's living room and them looking into mine!

At the same time, shifting to the virtual also offers wonderful opportunities. Do you agree?

As a start, I would like to conduct a small survey: How do you feel about your daily interaction via zoom, webex, teams etc.?

a) I see it mainly as a deterioration of my life and find it exhausting.

b) It has bad as well as good aspects.

c) I generally find it wondrously funny and often feel enriched.

As Eckhart von Hirschhausen puts it so beautifully: "Viewed from space, we on earth have always been in the home office."  With an equally pleasant smile you can look at all these video conferences. Why?

Victim of biology

First, through all this online conferencing we learn to understand others better. What do I mean? People with autism from all over the world write that now, during the lockdown period, even the "neurotypicals" finally understand how stressful life is for them. i For now, even we normals feel the cognitive overload they are exposed to every day: We see too many people at once - a whole screen full, and at nose level. We cannot decipher what these people are thinking or feeling because of missing signals. Due to the slight time difference, we often don’t find the right moment to jump into the conversation and therefore feel disconnected. Thanks to the video, we have to stare at ourselves with all our hair and skin problems and at the same time despair because we do not understand why listeners have turned their screen black right now when we have just said something clever. In other words: We learn how much we are victims of our biology, that pays attention to all these little non-verbal signals and is pretty much lost without them. A valuable knowledge gain for the time after Corona.

Do not lose your sense of humour

Secondly, there are so many wonderful, humorous stories that you can experience in online mode. This can range from eavesdropping on background conversations, to pets or children appearing in weird settings, to the delightful consequences of fumbling with technical gadgets. I especially like the story of a female boss who downloaded numerous filters before an online conversation, dialled in as a potato - and couldn't turn this off during the whole meeting. Clearly, online conferences often simply make your everyday life a little ... more fun.

And this pleasant experience brings me to the third point: The online format should spur us on to see the whole thing as something fun and easy. Because research clearly shows that humour is important on several levels. First, laughter is physically healthy. Just 20 minutes of comedy watching reduces the stress level ii, and after an hour of humour, the body produces enough killer cells to bolster the immune system for a whole 12 hours.iii And since video conferencing takes a long time, this means in one sense you can do even more for your health than through sport!

Managers with wit have it easier

Research also shows that humour is important in order to be appreciated as a leader. Since there are several types of humour, the question, of course is, which one you need. Clearly not the aggressive style. It is the self-ironic style that is the trust-building one. Want an example? If the manager welcomes a new employee with the words: "I'm glad that Daniel joined us, even though he knew everything about you," then that won't work! If, on the other hand, the manager says: "I'm glad that Daniel joined us, even though he knew everything about me," the leader is a much more pleasant creature in the eyes of the employees. The manager seems more trustworthy and if using this kind of humour more often is also perceived as more effective.iv

Just as George W. Bush seemed very likeable and capable when he said in a commencement speech at a university: "To those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honours, awards, and distinctions, I say, “well done.” And as I like to tell the “C” students: You, too, can be President.'"

So where do you find the inspiration for these self-deprecating stories? Probably in your daily calls. Like the politician who shared the precise moment when she finally realized that she needed a vacation. That was at the end of the videoconference when she said goodbye to her colleagues with the words:  "Love you."


The online experience is not that bad – yes, it is important to realize that it can be exhausting, that our brains are not enthusiastic, but that there are many positive aspects, and with a tiny bit of energy you can even find the hugely funny element in the whole situation.

So, what exactly can you do? First of all, watch the second episode (just under 18 minutes - so a good dose of killer cells for you) of the series "Social Distance" on Netflix, which is not only touching but also exhilarating. Or take the wonderful course on Sustainable Stand-Up Comedy with Belina Raffey - then you will look at the present day in a completely different way.

Click here not to miss any of the biweekly blogs on influencing. In addition, every two weeks you will be able to download a different chapter of the book "24 Karat Success" for free. The 24 chapters cover different aspects of how to influence yourself and others as PDF or ePub (eReader only) version.

Have a first glance at the book as PDF or ePub (only for eReader).

ii 20 minutes watching comedy reduces stress levels – Szabo, A. (2003). The acute effects of humor and exercise on mood and anxiety. Journal of Leisure Research, 35(2), 152.

iii One hour funny video increases antibodies – Berk, L. S., Felten, D. L., Tan, S. A., Bittman, B. B., & Westengard, J. (2001). Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 7(2), 62.

iv Gkorezis, P., & Bellou, V. (2016). The relationship between leader self-deprecating humor and perceived effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.