I’ve always been told that making assumptions is dangerous.
There is actually a saying about what can happen when you assume… but I feel this may not be the place to repeat it.
Rest assured though; it concurs that it is a bad thing to do.
However, I am going to ignore that warning today, as I am going to assume you do not need, nor want a detailed recap of the year 2020.
You lived it and have also probably heard it retold from a thousand different perspectives already.
Whilst listening to those perspectives, you may have realised a common theme, which is that the 2020 pandemic forced changes upon pretty much all of us, and that adaptability became an even greater necessity for our survival.
However, where you may find these perspectives differ from one another is the amount to which these enforced changes gradually evaporated, as elements of our former normality returned.
Fast forward to 2022, and many are back to living a day-to-day that would not have been unfamiliar in any year preceding 2020.
Which is brilliant!
However, for some, the adaptations they made, seemingly on a temporary basis, are now looking more permanent with each passing day.
This is particularly true when thinking about our work life.
The novelty and abnormality of working from home, setting up your own desk and being formal from the shoulders up and informal from the shoulders down, has graduated into being part of the establishment, which is now ageing in years.
Many of the normalities of our prior working lives no longer seem to be returning, as we envisaged at the time.
It is alarming too that many of these missing normalities are things that form such crucial elements within the human experience.
Which is why you may now find yourself feeling more disconnected than you have before.
The previous abundance of opportunities to connect with others may now feel like a scarcity, as the focus of remote working prioritises our functionality and productivity over our ability to be human with one another.
So, when we have less to make us feel human, how do we in fact, stay human?
With regard to ways in which we can adapt ourselves to re-establish our lost sense of connection with one another, we can definitely make adjustments.
Before this though, it all begins with self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
This includes self-awareness of the basic human needs that we have to fulfil to keep us feeling as we should, and also the emotional intelligence to recognise that others may be feeling unfulfilled and that we can make a real difference.
This is so crucial because without human connection, there is no belonging.
And without belonging, we may really begin to struggle.
Let’s start feeling human with self-awareness, because without it, you may be unwillingly denying yourself permission to be human.
As we mentioned earlier, the nature of working remotely is that it prioritises functionality and productivity, so it can be easy to lose yourself in the rush.
Without realising it, you can become lost and weighed down by the unrelenting pressure of tasks and timelines.
Of course, time pressures have always existed, however previously they were punctuated by opportunities for escapism.
A random chat here, an opportune moment to collaborate there.
Without the possibility of these, we can just continue to work through our tasks like some kind of senseless machine that only has a need for completion.
Not a human.
By giving yourself permission and control, you can relieve the stress and refresh yourself by satisfying your basic needs. It is also key to promote this amongst your team, so that your colleagues do not struggle under unsustainable feelings of pressure that to some extent, are self-imposed.
Ironically, this actually liberates you and others to be even more productive, energetic, and focused rather than just chaining tasks together endlessly.
Also somewhat ironically, this feeling of disconnect is something we may share.
Which is why your emotional intelligence could make a huge difference between someone feeling the comforting warmth of belonging and the satisfaction of fulfilling human needs, or nothing changing.
You could in fact make this difference today, by doing things such as arranging regular get togethers that are completely independent of work and using the time to just talk about whatever comes up.
Much like you would perhaps whilst making that cup of coffee in the office.
It may also be a good idea to make these times-to-connect commonplace by adding additional time into the existing work meetings already in your calendar.
This is particularly effective if you manage a team.
Our familiarity with online working has now meant that our tendency to just crack straight into the matter at hand and gloss over social interaction has increased.
You may find yourself frequently joining calls and then immediately being utilised for your knowledge, without their being any time allocated for connecting with the owner of that knowledge.
Which is like walking into a person’s house uninvited and helping yourself to some of their belongings.
The impact of adding additional time to a call, and spending it just talking with people, without an agenda, is incredible… and not just in the immediate moments that follow either.
Immediately, there is a sense of relief and refreshment that comes from seemingly meaningless communication, especially if you have spent hours sat in silence, or tunnel-visioned in meaningful tasks.
Beyond that, this time to bond is a welcome boosting of energy and enthusiasm, that can fuel a person and team to be more productive, more creative, and more connected… just to name a few of the positives.
By striking straight into the reason you are meeting for, you may save time and achieve your primary outcome. However, you run the very real risk of the other people feeling that you are disinterested in them, and that one of their few opportunities to connect with a colleague has passed them by, and that their disconnect is larger than they initially believed.
Whilst these scheduling changes seem subtle, they can begin a positive change for both individuals and teams as a collective.
Fundamentally, the world and the way we work will continue to evolve, and therefore the ability to interact effectively is essential to your continued success.
Developing emotional intelligence in yourself and those around you therefore is the key to maintaining a strong working environment in the long term, as it will give you the ability to identify these feelings of disconnect in yourself and others, as well as the communication skills to create a stronger sense of belonging.
It’s a development investment that is guaranteed to impact immediately, but crucially, you and your team will feel its value increase progressively with time.
Alex & The Excel Team
P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2022, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
About Excel Communications
Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe. Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning. We work with you to create unforgettably, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results. View our case studies here. We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across five continents in multiple languages. Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.
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