A previous Owner’s Manual article discussed the general benefits of video calls over audio-only calls. But now that we’re all conducting video calls from our homes, it’s worth calling out another benefit of video calls: increased vulnerability.

Joining a video call from home, versus the office, makes each participant more vulnerable. The other call participants get a glimpse into your life at home. We’ve all seen and heard home-life in the background of our video calls the past few weeks. Given the changes in routine, we may have seen each other looking less camera-ready than we would have if we had been calling from the office.

How is this beneficial? This vulnerability of others seeing into our homes is an opportunity to increase intimacy in business relationships and therefore an opportunity to build trust. The more vulnerable the interaction with the other participant—imagine witnessing their child throwing a tantrum—the more of an opportunity there is to build (or lose) trust. It all depends on how you respond.

When you witness someone else’s vulnerability, you can build trust by letting the other person know that they’re safe despite this exposure. By safe, I mean letting them know that they won’t be judged or mistreated because of what they exposed to you (whether shared intentionally or not).

How do you demonstrate this safety? You communicate it with your words and body language. Don’t ignore what’s happening. Instead, acknowledge what's happening and let them know that you accept it.

For example, in the case of a child’s tantrum you could smile and say, “It’s okay. We’re all working from home now and children are going to be upset sometimes. We can pause our conversation at any point if that’s helpful.”

The exact words don’t matter but it’s letting the other person know that their vulnerability won’t damage your perception of them.

We’re all vulnerable right now in many ways. We can use this time to build trust by letting those around us know that they’re safe to display their imperfections to us. Turn an uncomfortable situation into a trust-building opportunity for everyone involved.

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