By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
In the age of online meeting exhaustion, there are loads of horror stories about embarrassing things that happened over Zoom. Not long ago, I read a blog post of a person who accidentally saw a coworker’s husband naked on Zoom. Yikes. The second-hand, or even third-hand, embarrassment is unbearable. If you are looking for more Zoom horror stories, I am certain they would be easy for you to find. But this isn’t it.
I recently was in a training that occurred over Zoom. The training group meets regularly, but I don’t have close relationships with the class instructors. While the class is in session, participants are expected to have cameras on, engage with the class and instructors, and fully focus, as if out of the office at an offsite location.
During the course of the meeting, something came up unexpectedly and I had to step away from my computer. I messaged one of the hosts saying I needed to step away for just a minute or two. I was gone for about 45 minutes. While I was gone, I was logged into the meeting, but had my video and audio off. As I was about to join the meeting again, I heard a dialogue between the two presenters as the rest of the attendees were in breakout sessions. One of the hosts remarked on my message saying that I had been gone a while, and then added, “I hope everything is alright.”
This struck me as exceptionally kind.
It would be an understatement to say that most people are currently experiencing some level of stress. Perhaps we view the world pre-COVID with rose-colored glasses, but there were still plenty of things to stress about before a global pandemic. Any existing stress seems magnified in the current state the world. And how does stress show up in the world? It looks like frustration, annoyance, rudeness, offense, discourtesy, blame, aggravation, and similar ugly emotions.
I appreciate that my absence was met with kindness, instead of frustration that I had left the group, or annoyance that I couldn’t participate as expected.
Let this serve as a reminder: If you are on a Zoom call, even if a participant steps “away” from a meeting, they may be able to hear you. The question is – what will they hear?