“Zoom fatigue”: because video calls tire us psychologically

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Elia Tabuenca García
@eliatabuencagarcia
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Video calls absorb our energy and tire the brain. In fact, the non-verbal component is missing. This makes communication more difficult

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Video calls absorb our energy and tire the brain. In recent times, due to coronavirus-related restrictions, we have been using video chats a lot more both for work and to keep in touch with family and friends. But this new habit is much more tiring than we imagine.





We noticed it too. After having long video conferences, we feel tired and find it hard to concentrate. The explanation is there and to provide it were various psychologists and scientists who have coined a new definition, that of "Zoom fatigue", referring in particular to Zoom, one of the many services that offer group video calls.

The unprecedented explosion of the use of video chat in response to the pandemic has actually launched an unofficial social experiment, showing globally that virtual interactions can be extremely difficult for the brain.

Index

Why is video chat more difficult than face-to-face communication?

Unlike face-to-face communication, virtual conversations do not allow access to a fundamental component, that of non-verbal language. Thus we end up paying too much attention to words. During an in-person conversation, the brain focuses only partially on the spoken words, drawing additional meaning also from non-verbal signals, such as gestures, tone of voice, body position.

In particular, Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor of Insead, who explores learning and sustainable development in the workplace, and Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor of Clemson University, who studies well-being in the workplace and effectiveness. of teamwork.

According to the two experts, participating in a video call requires more attention than a face-to-face conversation because we have to work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. Paying more attention to these aspects, we consume a lot of energy and get tired more:

“Our minds are together while our bodies feel that we are not. This dissonance, which causes mixed feelings, is exhausting. You can't naturally relax in conversation, ”Petriglieri explains.



The poor quality of a video or the delay in listening to the voice can also make the situation worse, which can be perceived as inattention.

The challenge of silence and delays in communications

According to Petriglieri, another difficulty encountered during video chats concerns the management of silence:

“Silence creates a natural rhythm in a conversation in real life. However, when it occurs in a video call, you are concerned about the technology ”.

The “virtual” silence also creates discomfort in the participants. Another stressor is that when you join a videoconference, everyone is looking at us. It's a bit like being on a stage and even unknowingly comes the social pressure:

“It is also very difficult for people not to look at their face if they can see it on the screen or not be aware of how they behave in front of the camera,” explains Petriglieri.

How can we alleviate the "Zoom fatigue"

Both experts suggest limiting video calls to necessary ones. Turning on the camera should also be optional, and in general, you need to better understand that cameras don't always have to be turned on during every meeting.

If for work it is not possible to do without it, experts suggest alternating periods of rest between a video call and another, stretching, having a drink or doing some exercise.

It is also necessary to allow time to pass between one conversation and another, setting real boundaries that allow us to "put aside an identity" for the working one, for example, and then move on to the private one.


We also rediscover some nice habits, now forgotten. Instead of video calling, we write a letter telling our loved ones how much we care about them.


Sources of reference: BBC, National Geographic

READ also:

Top 10 Free Group Video Calling Apps

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