Without the intricacies of in-person meetings, it can be difficult to understand exactly how your teammates are feeling. Meeting over Zoom can make it impossible to read body language or chat a bit in the hallway before getting down to business.
Thankfully, TED Talk-famous researcher, author and professor Brené Brown has defined a practice on her podcast Unlocking Us that puts empathy on center stage during virtual meetings — without making things awkward or triggering evasiveness.
Directly asking your reports how they're feeling usually results in a quick "I'm fine," making it difficult to understand and empathize with them. So, to gauge emotion, Brown starts each meeting with a two-word feeling check-in.
Each member of the team, including Brown, kicks things off by naming two emotions they're feeling. It's quick and it gives people permission to share true descriptors of their emotions without feeling judged. It also acknowledges that there are more feelings than "good" and "bad," and grants permission for professional relationships to carry on even if you're openly managing complex emotions.
"What I'm seeing right now are these weird paradoxical feelings and emotions," she said.
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