Archive for May, 2020

While driving this morning, I heard a commercial announcement boasting of the chief benefit of the service advertised as “ no human contact”. The message was striking and I found myself more than a little uncomfortable. This was made especially odd given a series of recent conversations with business leaders about the deterioration of team identity and true collaboration despite regular otherwise productive virtual meetings.

We have all necessarily come to rely on virtual meeting platforms in this time of social distancing. Tasks are getting done and even religious services of a kind are moving forward online. One can only be thankful that this option is available to us. Yet, there is a gnawing uncertainty about the “ new normal” over the next two years. Today’s news of a possible mutation of the Covid-19 virus potentially further complicates the search for an effective vaccine. How long will we need to social distance and with what psycho-spiritual impact?

We are a social species and touch is a central quality of our nature. Consequently, it is not at all surprising that so many, however foolishly, ignore warnings and take advantage of partial state reopenings to simply flip the switch and return to the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

Witness the opening of the State Parks and the crowd of tourists this week making a beeline to Yellowstone and “Old Faithful” in large groups mostly mask-free. The same defiance is occurring on our beaches and in so many other settings. We will see in the next month what consequences accrue, though I fear the worst may be yet to come.

If we assume a smart and prudent reliance by most on social distancing, applying all reasonable precautions, how do we safely but surely restore intimacy and the essence of our humanity? The answer is in focusing on the well-being and experiences of our brothers and sisters.

Team meetings and virtual gatherings tend to follow focused agendas. Many complain of distractions as people look to their phones for other incoming messages and other attention- grabbing activity happening around them. This is an opportunity to really concentrate on what’s happening in the lives of others. Leave time to ask what people are feeling and learning. What new questions are they asking? What thoughts preoccupy them? How do they envision the road ahead. Place a decided accent on storytelling about these times, related concerns, learning and insights.

Emotional intelligence need not take a holiday because we have gone virtual. Eyes, facial expression, and tone of voice are all there for us. This time together-apart calls us to sharpen the saw of our appreciation of what someone else is saying.

This can only redound to our collaboration when we have an effective vaccine and can once again be physically closer. This time spent in our pandemic shelters can be a proving ground for learning the one skill that is notoriously in short supply among human beings: Listening !

© The Harried Mystic, 2020 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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