How to Say No to a Video Call

Career Blog

Virtual work is awash in perks, but even the staunchest advocate of the model would concede a distinct downside – the endless stream of video meetings.

Proponents note, rightly so, that the visual aspect helps clarify communication, encourage participation, and enable management to gut-check engagement. But there’s also truth to the sentiment that video calls are somehow more intrusive than face-to-face sessions and can be particularly exhausting for introverts.

So what can you do if your corporate culture favors the camera, but you’re not ready for another close up? Try these five techniques for avoiding the spotlight.

  1. Judge the Agenda: If it’s weak or non-existent, ask for a clarification to “make best use of their time” and then either fix the issue in an email or suggest a phone call. 
  2. Own the Invite: When you receive an invitation, compress the time, and resend with a phone-only option. “Today’s packed. I think we can handle this in a X min phone call.”
  3. Just Say No: Declare Video-free Wednesdays or Call Only mornings in your signature line. People get the imbalance of work/life in the post-COVID reality. Let your co-workers know your boundaries and chances are they will respect them.  
  4. Block Your Calendar: Schedule “work time” that prevents meetings of any kind. After all everyone needs time to do actual work. 
  5. Bandwidth: Technology is a great scapegoat if you’re just not feeling it. In a pinch you can simply turn off the camera and blame the interwebs. Of course, that’s not a sustainable solution so better to just be authentic in your approach. 

Like it or not, close encounters with our computer cameras have become an omnipresent aspect of our working world.  But that doesn’t mean we have to say yes to every invite. If you produce great results, you’ll earn the right to reduce your camera time. Of course, if your organization doesn’t offer flexibility, it may be time to look for a new one.

Need a career coach? Contact me via

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Share This Article


Leave a Comment


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest