Once the pandemic started, Zoom video calls became a real panacea — we could hold business meetings without leaving our room and video calls with our family and friends we couldn’t see or hug. In a mode of isolation and quarantine, when live communication was reduced to zero, it was a real breath of fresh air.
However, as research by scientists from Stanford, the University of Toronto, and psychotherapists shows, it has turned from an escape into a real daily struggle. Moreover, researchers have developed the Zoom fatigue introverts extroverts concept, which demonstrates how video calls affect different types of personalities. Let’s understand these notions and see how this new type of communication affects our psyche.
Zoom Fatigue — Is It For Real?
Have you ever noticed that spending a few hours in an online meeting is more stressful than offline? Stanford researchers have called this Zoom fatigue the mental exhaustion associated with online video conferencing.
Why Does This Happen?
Dissonance Of Non-Verbal Communication
People transmit and absorb a lot of information through non-verbal cues and emotions. When we meet people in person, we have no problem perceiving all their signals — verbal and non-verbal. When we communicate via video chat, we only see faces, voices are distorted, and interference and connection delays force us to focus all of our attention on understanding what is being said. We don’t have the energy to decode non-verbal signals. The situation is exacerbated when there is more than one person in the meeting.
Zoom vs. Mirrors
When we talk to people offline, they are not holding a mirror where we constantly see our faces. It’s an additional stress factor in video meetings. We fix our hair, change our facial expressions, or just watch ourselves in that small window. Our facial reactions in live communication are subconscious — we don’t control them, and we can’t see them. In Zoom, it’s different. We may not like our appearance, or we will spend the whole meeting trying to catch the right angle or light. All of this makes the conversation less effective and causes us to have negative emotions that are draining.
All our live meetings take place in different locations. Zoom limits us to one annoying window on the screen. It doesn’t give us a sense of even the slightest change in space. Moreover, when we meet people offline, we are in constant motion. During a Zoom call, people must stay within a certain area for others to see them. Essentially, users are stuck in a tiny physical cone and have to sit and look straight ahead most of the time.
Pauses set the rhythm of a conversation and can be more expressive than words, but not in Zoom. A delay of even a few seconds makes the interlocutor check the stability of their connection, the speakers, and the microphone. It can sometimes even cause anger or feeling ignored or not listened to.
Zoom Fatigue — Who Suffers More — Extroverts Or Introverts?
Our personality type is just one factor that determines how we interact. Scientists defined that introverts and extraverts suffer from Zoom fatigue differently and have their peculiar factors.
What Exhausts Introverts?
Unlike extroverts, introverts are exhausted by communications and meetings, spending a great deal of energy on them. The most common problems introverts face are the following:
- too much attention and prolonged eye contact by one or a group of people;
- annoying external stimuli and noise from others in the meeting;
- the need to speak in front of a group of people and be the center of attention;
- insecurity and self-criticism fueled by the constant reflection of oneself on the screen;
- fear of pausing, which could be perceived as a technical failure.
How Can Introverts Cope With Zoom Fatigue?
- try to limit the length and number of your calls;
- schedule online meetings at the same time so that they become routine for you and you are always ready;
- use headphones to create a cocoon of your own personal space;
- pause your video calls if you have to, giving your callers a heads up;
- touch up before the call, so you feel more confident.
What Exhausts Extraverts?
It would seem that extroverts should be happy with everything — they received a convenient tool for communicating online. However, it causes problems for them, too:
- the lack of a non-verbal and emotional component in video calls;
- the ability to mute the microphone is annoying because it is not similar to natural communication conditions;
- the stillness and motionlessness of video calls are exhausting;
- the need to listen to others for hours without being able to talk.
How Can Extraverts Cope With Zoom Fatigue?
- try to balance online meetings with live communication;
- avoid too long and exhausting video calls;
- make the sound louder, and open the window to the full screen to create the effect of presence as much as possible;
- change the format of video calls and make them more interactive.
General Tips For Both Extroverts And Introverts
There are no 100% introverts and extroverts, so don’t be surprised if you get fatigued and irritated by things from both personality types. You can overcome Zoom fatigue if you plan your business meetings online in a sensible and balanced way. You can also try other video call apps that address some of the problems and causes of fatigue. For example, you can try the video calling online Whoosh app, which offers features that can take video communication to the next level. If changing platforms is not an option, try following these tips:
- Choose a monochrome background or use a virtual background to reduce eye strain;
- Take short breaks during long calls;
- Use the “hide self-viewing” feature, so you are not distracted by your reflection;
- Sit a little farther away from the screen so you can stretch or gesture if you want;
- Switch to audio format if the video is not necessary.
Video calls have taken a firm place in our lives and are unlikely to disappear. All we have to do is adapt to them and make our lives more comfortable.
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