We all have different communication preferences. Some of us prefer texting, while others prefer phone calls or even video chats. However, while getting a response to a phone call has almost certainly become the norm, most people are still trying to adapt to video calls. What happens when someone decides to video call you out of the blue without first informing you? For me, it often leads to telling little white lies to avoid that call.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing my friends, family or acquaintances; it’s that at times I’m not in the mood. Sometimes, I’m in the middle of a project or just don’t feel like being on camera. 

Video calls are demanding, and many things can contribute to a successful or failed video call experience. In addition to the strength of their internet connection, a person’s surroundings, appearance, and state of mind can influence how likely they are to spontaneously accept a video call.

Recently, I’ve started realizing the importance of seeking consent before placing a video call. Think of video calls without consent as being like appearing unannounced at a friend’s, relative’s or colleague’s place. 

Although close family and friends tend to be welcoming in such circumstances, it’s still inconsiderate to just pop up at someone’s place without first informing them. Whatever the reason may be, expect to be greeted with awkwardness.

It’s not just about respecting someone’s time and privacy; it’s also about being considerate of their preferences and needs. For example, I have a friend who works from home and has a busy schedule. Whenever I video-call him without first texting to ask him if I could, he often tells me that he’s in the middle of something important and can’t talk right now.

 Albeit I know that’s not always true, whenever I ask him beforehand, he always makes time for me, and our conversations are more enjoyable because we’re both in the right state of mind.

The same goes for my family members. While I appreciate the effort to stay in touch, sometimes they call me at inconvenient times when I’m either at work or already in bed. When they seek my consent before calling, it allows me to plan and set aside time to catch up with them without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

In a professional setting, seeking consent before placing a video call cannot be overemphasized. It not only demonstrates respect for someone’s time, but it also ensures that everyone is prepared and engaged during the meeting. Without consent, video calls can be disruptive and distracting, especially when people are in different time zones or have conflicting schedules. 

I once had a colleague who would call me without giving me a heads-up, and it often resulted in my being unprepared for the conversation or missing important information. When we started scheduling our calls in advance, I found that I was more productive and efficient during our meetings because I had time to prepare and gather my thoughts. 

Seeking consent before placing a video call is an essential part of effective communication. It allows us to respect each other’s time and privacy, be considerate of each other’s preferences and needs, and ensure that everyone is prepared and engaged in the conversation.  

Surprisingly, there are some people who have similar concerns about seeking consent before a video call. Morgan Mackenzie shares his idea on Quora: “ If someone tried video calling me without a prior arrangement, I wouldn’t answer the call, an unsolicited video call would indeed be intrusive.” 

Interestingly, according to Yura Gratero’s comments on Quora  “it’s like showing up to your neighbors to stay over. It is because you are playing with people’s time”

So next time you’re thinking of placing a video call, take a moment to seek consent from the person you want to speak with. It will make all the difference in the world.