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Connecting in Covid Chaos – Part 2 - Depth


Following on from my last article where I suggested we use the terminology of ‘physical distancing’ rather than ‘social’ and shared ways we can socially connect with our networks; I’d like to explore what that can actually lead to. Depth. What we need to do now is find more depth in our networks. How can you nurture relationships whilst you have less contact with people?  How can you build trust / open communication when you can’t touch someone?  We’ve all seen the ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’ team models and thousands of others just like it.  Everyone I know has been on at least 1 team building / communication enhancing workshop.  It all applies, except this year everything will happen without the face to face meetings the workshops, the events and the hospitality.  How will this ever work? Your communication (soft and social) and emotional skills have never been more important.  As a big face to face fan, I have to say that I was finding this self-isolation really difficult. The first thing that happened is that one by one my meetings and events all started to get cancelled (work, family and friends). I then needed to adjust to my whole family being home and plan for what that meant for us. Now it is finding some kind of new working/ living rhythm and trying to keep everyone engaged in what they need to be doing without getting too sad about not being engaged with their usual worlds. I know that this year we have significantly less chance for high touch communication.  Having said that, we can have more depth and I’m starting to realise that that has immense power and pleasure too. I shared a few articles ago how we had a health scare with our dog Archie in February, so I am personally cherishing the time to hang out with him more. In the past, I never just sat and did arts, crafts, drama with my kids so am loving seeing their creativity shine while we spend ages inventing and playing. As for my wider networks, I think we’ve chatted more last month than ever, and it’s been really nice to feel that sense of connection and commonality (despite the obvious confinement). Whilst I feel I’ve been given the gift of time; the depth takes a little more work. When you are engaging with your networks, by phone, video technology or otherwise remember to focus on;

  1. Being present –by truly, genuinely listening. If you can’t be present ask to speak later when you can be.

  2. Asking real questions – those that know me, know I avoid ‘how are you’ & ‘what do you do’ so think about asking ‘how are you feeling’, ‘what’s been the biggest change for you’, ‘tell me more about’ ….

  3. Applying empathy – when I overhear conversations, most people think that to show empathy they should share a “yeah me too” story. This cuts the other person off and turns the attention on you. Instead you can explore more depth about what they have just said. Ask some open questions and show genuine interest in the answers and they will feel more comfortable to share more.

  4. Two-way outcomes - What does that person really want to say / feel / need right now?  How can I meet their needs to ensure a productive outcome for our meeting / project / conversation.  Do you have the communication skills to both read and guide the conversation?  Can you have a difficult conversation? – there may be many of these this year.  What about nurturing that person?  Building trust by sharing too?  Ensuring your team members/ clients are with you, truly on board with whatever you’re working on. 

  5. The right communication method - It’s not the lack of tools! we all have phones, skype, email, chat, social media etc. The depth you achieve will depend on what you choose to use. It doesn’t all need to be visual but as most communication is non-verbal; you may be missing some important cues if it isn’t.  

I hope these 5 reminders give you much more depth in your relationships right now. I’m personally looking for the silver linings. Whilst we all struggle with the lack of real contact with friends, family, peers, clients, and brooder contacts, we are all having to adapt to the new routines and confinement and find a way through. I am here to support you, so if you want to discuss your challenges let me know. If you can, use this time to review your soft skills and emotional intelligence, I’d suggest reflecting on areas that you are strong (and do more of that) and listing those you need a little more help. Think about all that is out there to help develop you where you need it; TEDx talks, Articles (I shared this one on LI from Fortune), Courses etc.  Put a plan in place that helps improve or bridge any areas that are more challenging for you?  Your skills will be tested this year so make sure you are ready. Happy Netships as always, Julia

Ps – If you want to work with me to improve your networking relationships through deeper connections, check out our next public program Dates & Details

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