These are strange times, indeed. The world has turned upside down and we are all faced with adapting nearly every facet of our lives. Our busy days of commuting and rushing around have been refocused in a big way and, apart from the people we share a home with, our communications have largely gone virtual.
Until recently, I have always resisted online coaching for 3 main reasons:
- Lack of eye contact. When I look at a student’s eyes on the screen, to them I’m looking down and when I look into the camera, they see me looking at them, but I’m looking way over their heads. It always made me feel that we weren’t connecting properly
- Regressing from 3D to 2D. I always felt blindfolded in a way—as if some of the circuits I had grown to depend on had suddenly been disconnected. When I work with students in person, we’re in each other’s energy field and we can pick up subtle cues about how things are going.
- Seeing my face. Having my own face looking back at me was always distracting. It was like going to a restaurant with clients and sitting across from a mirror. It was a mixture of horror (I do THAT with my face?!) and fascination (Hey, that gal’s kinda interesting).
Like so many others during these extraordinary times, if I wanted to keep working, I would have to embrace this way of communicating and find a way to cope with its challenges.
I dove straight in with virtual teaching, online coaching sessions, business meetings and catch-ups with friends and family. At first, it was extremely awkward and I struggled to feel connected without proper eye contact. I didn’t know where to look and felt very self-conscious and distracted about what my face was doing. Then something extraordinary happened—I got used to it.
Like a person who loses their sight or hearing, my other faculties compensated. I became more sensitive to other aspects of communication such as vocal tones, facial cues and body language (what I could see of it). As for being self-conscious about my own face looking back at me, I got used to that too. Once I accepted my face and all its contortions, I could finally let go and just express myself.
It was such a monumental shift for me, that I was inspired to make a little video about it—a parody of ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’ from My Fair Lady (written by Frederick Loewe and Jay Lerner). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ‘Ode to Zoom – a song for the times’, with heartfelt thanks to the very talented (and delightful lock-down companion) Bruce Knight for the music.
May you continue to stay well and grow ever more accustomed to your own face and your true self.
London, May 2020