I’m guessing that right around now you are tired of hearing phrases like, “when things get back to normal” and “this new normal is going to take some getting used to”. When the world slowed down for us in the U.S. around the middle of March of 2020, we were thrust into a new way of operating by medical advice from the CDC, and our own fear of a disease that wasn’t familiar enough for us to comprehend the hazards (how was it transmitted, etc.). As we adjusted, we had plenty to do. We sprayed grocery bags and let them sit idle for an hour before unpacking – with gloves on.
So now, as we move toward the other side of the disease, we know much more than we did, and it is time to resume our work and personal lives. This should be easy, right? Maybe not. As we resume more face-to-face interactions, the tenuousness of not knowing what someone’s circumstances may have been during the pandemic may alter conversations. We know that others may be feeling a number of things that may or may not be similar to what we are feeling. One thing is for certain, emotions are high. Emotions like anxiety, guilt, impatience, etc. come in to play as we move forward with our lives.
How will we begin the process of expanding workplace networks and rebuilding social interactions? According to Harvard Business Review, workplace networks impact productivity and innovation, which are critical to your bottom line. “On productivity, people who said they feel more productive also reported stronger workplace relationships than those who don’t. On the contrary, those who said their interactions with colleagues have decreased this year were less likely to be thriving at things that lead to innovation, like thinking strategically, collaborating or brainstorming with others, and proposing innovative ideas” (Bayn, Larsen & Martin, 2021, para. 10).
While this transition to post-pandemic life will not have the sudden shock of our movement into the pandemic, the slower paced changes will require us to use our best emotional intelligence and communication skills. Listening to employees and including them in the process will make rebuilding social interactions easier and more effective. Checking our mindset, using our best communication skills by asking more questions and patiently listening to others is what is needed so much now. Be patient with yourself and others. We deserve it. We have been through a lot.
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