As a card-carrying introvert (I laminated it myself!) with a severe aversion to talking on the phone, teleconferencing and looking at my own face on camera, our move to the 100 per cent work-from-home lifestyle has been a true delight. And there’s nothing about it I love more than that point at the end of every Zoom meeting, after everyone has said goodbye, when all of our faces go slack as we fumble with our trackpads or touch bars in an attempt to exit the call. It’s a totally normal and not at all unsettling way to end a social interaction. But what if there was an even better way?
I’ve been working at Lifehacker for more than two months and I haven’t been to our shuttered-until-further-notice offices since my interview (the conference room seemed nice!). That means I’ve spent the last two months learning to tolerate—if not actually enjoy—the experience of video chatting via the exposure method. And even if I don’t hate it these days, I still haven’t mastered the fine art of ending a call without looking and feeling totally awkward. But the internet has offered up a solution that I think will serve me—and you!—very well.
On Twitter, linguist Lauren Gawne has provided a foolproof method of elegantly exiting a video conference: the sustained wave.
A thing I believed even before our whole working lives moved to video chat: the best way to end a video call is a sustained hand wave while hanging up. Clearly indicates you know you're on video but the call has concluded. It's not weird to cut off mid-wave ????
— Lauren Gawne (@superlinguo) May 22, 2020
This makes perfect sense. Despite months of practice, I still seem unable to end a video chat fast enough. I’m almost always the last person lingering in the room after everyone has exited, cringing as I see each distracted face disappear from view. Whether or not anyone else notices, I always come out of my meetings feeling slightly deflated, which makes jumping back into my work that much harder.
Using my non-dominant hand to wave continuously as I reach for the controls to close out Zoom, however, will both signal to others that I’m taking off and make me feel less self-conscious about being on camera while I attempt to gracefully shut down the program. It’s a win/win.
As Gawne goes on to point out, interacting with others over video chat—especially those with whom our relationships are less friendly or familial and more formal, like coworkers or, eek, our bosses—can be stressful because so many of the non-verbal cues we rely to communicate successfully are rendered useless. It’s hard to read body language when everyone is reduced to a head and shoulders in a small square on a cluttered laptop screen. Anything we can do to make the process go more smoothly is a boon, including making a graceful exit. You don’t want to get off the call feeling like you’ve overdosed on social awkwardness for the day.