Strengthening Connections in a Time of Social Distance

If you are one of the many billions of people whose life has been upended by the COVID-19 outbreak, you may find your mind vacillating between two polar opposites. On one extreme you may find your mind pre-occupied with your own well-being and the well-being of those you care most deeply about. On the other extreme, you may find that you are checking the news several times a day and thinking a lot about how your business will survive and what these changes will look like for your employees – or you may even find yourself thinking about the world as a whole. These extremes can be both exhausting and isolating. But you may find that something that’s a part of your natural rhythm in “normal” life has dropped out without you realizing it. If that’s true for you, this week’s tip may help!

On a related note, if you are a parent like me, you may have watched Frozen II multiple times in the last few weeks. So as we all continue to step into the unknown, may we all do the next right thing through social distancing. But let’s also keep showing care and compassion for others so we’re not all lost in the woods. After all, maybe this will all make sense when we are older

For those of us who usually work outside of the house, your rhythm likely includes brief conversations, hellos, or just eye contact and head nods with a lot more people than you realize. So now that your rhythms have changed, both you and those people are not getting the same level of connection as before. And to get it, we need to be a lot more intentional now than in our “normal” life.

This week’s tip:

Check in with one colleague and one non-work friend each day. Send a text or a Slack message, call them by FaceTime, Skype, or even an old-fashioned phone call (yes, our devices are actually capable of making a phone call, like in the distant past!). Or even – if you know someone’s address – send them a handwritten note. Email can be a little impersonal, but a more informal connection can go a long way. Ask them how they are doing – and really listen to their response. Empathize and show that you care about their situation. Checking in with one colleague and one non-work friend each day will help you get out of the two extremes of self-focus and world news, and more than likely, you will enjoy talking to them and come away glad that you did.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you.

As a reminder, if you are at home with kids, I also suggest taking a look at this post full of resources and ideas on my wife Angel Jackson’s blog, Family Learning Adventure.

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Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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