Covid-19 has brought along tremendous changes in our daily lives. It has compelled us to adopt technology and digital tools in all areas of our lives. With so much of our time being spent online, an hour-long webinar with Mrs. Aditi Rindani, a media and communications specialist with more than 10+ years of experience probed me to write about the evolving digital world of education and communication.
The webinar began with the basics of communication and gave insights on the importance of non-verbal communication. 60-70% of human communication is inclusive of non-verbal communication and it is said that non-verbal cues strengthen a verbal conversation. The lack of personal connect and physical meetings have made it difficult to understand people and have paved the way for numerous assumptions and misunderstandings. Another disadvantage of online modes of communication is frequent distractions fueled by notifications, accessing other tabs and applications causing poor attention span of a person.
Various communication barriers like emotional barriers can be overcome by simply being empathetic and a good listener. Enquiring about their emotional status and well-being would go a long way in eliminating such hurdles. The communication barriers with respect to the ongoing Coronavirus need to be understood and dealt in a healthy way. At a time when inter-personal communication has gone for a toss, it is difficult to gauge non-verbal cues and build trust among people. Stress levels are high more than ever and deeming the need to be understood and showing empathy a priority.
The deeply affected education sector has now paved the way for using technology in education. Even with the boost of EdTech systems, there is an empathy deficit and a lack of human-centric feedback. Being confined to homes and screens has created a lot of anxiety and impatience among students. The responsibility of teachers has increased manifold as they have to create visual content to teach, keep track of students individually and conduct assessments simultaneously along with keeping a tab on the children’s well-being. The Delhi Government uses Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) under the umbrella of its Mission Buniyad. Parents and students can give a missed call to get an audio lesson every alternate day for more than 8 lac children enrolled across various public government schools. Such noteworthy initiatives ensure outreach of education to various communities of the society.
Professional communication for workplaces needs to be evolved and changed keeping in mind the dynamic circumstances. Respecting time and privacy, selecting the right mediums of communication, and keeping humans at the center rather than the task at hand would better help in maintaining a healthy relationship between employers and the employees. Setting group norms such as keeping color codes for various states of the mind (red for stress, green for happy and relaxed), having light conversations before meetings, or even group activities would provide more enthusiasm and provide a sense of belonging to the workforce. Previous responses and texts can be analyzed and improved to be more empathetic in the future. Importance must be given to proofreading emails and messages and using the right exclamations at the right time leaving no room for misunderstanding and hurt. Use appropriate sentences like “these are good suggestions, let us discuss them tomorrow” and give appropriate feedback whenever required.
Providing a sense of assurance to the people, be it employees or children must be done through constant communication. Conversing about things apart from work and conducting creative activities can prove much beneficial. Understand if they are coping with the changes, offer assistance, and inculcate kindness and empathy. Be a good listener and provide the benefit of doubt.
Battling challenging times like these, especially when it comes to education and communication, must be difficult at different levels and it is a leader’s role to ensure the correct management of people. Understanding their perspectives and building a rapport with them can help to overcome the communication barriers.
As George Bernard Shaw rightly said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”