Avoiding Emotional Distancing while Social Distancing

As we grapple with new terms like “flattening the curve” and “social distancing,” some of us may feel disconnected from each other – our friends, our coworkers. This can reflect in the way we manage our teams and collaborate with all contributors to work toward the same vision.

Believe it or not, this is the time to pause, reflect and understand the importance of human interaction and socialization. In these trying times of social distancing, it can be challenging to hold our teams together.

Make up for physical distancing

At ITBD, we are engaging with our team socially, on an individual as well as team basis. These days, I start my day by connecting with our three ITBD campuses in a Zoom video call—our “Coffee with Community” is an opportunity to talk with the larger team about their physical and emotional wellbeing. During their one on one and daily huddles, our managers also talk to team members not just about work, but about their hobbies, their professional and personal aspirations. These casual interactions make up for all those post-lunch chats and hallway small talks—all interactions teams miss out on when working remotely.

Communicate with care

While writing emails or boosting team morale over a video meeting, remember ‘what we say and how we say it’ matters. Understand that everybody is vulnerable now. Do your best not to come across as rude and use words like “I want …” or “You need to …” something that instantly triggers defensive responses.

When not collaborating with a video session or on a call, we complement our written communication by including emoticons and GIFs to convey emotions better. This form of communication is emotionally complaint and gets more eyeballs.

Revisit your leadership style

Though unprecedented, being socially distant offers you an opportunity to experience a rich array of thoughts. In this quiet time, if you can easily remember the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, why not use it to assess yourself objectively and find points for improvement.

Trust me, even if you have revisited your leadership style last quarter, you will find some ways to be better at ‘what you do’ and ‘how you interact with your team.’ A suggestion: Your new-found leadership style should now focus on assessing your team’s motivation and valuing their needs—something that will help you escape emotional distancing now and in the future.

Practice kindness and gratitude

Lastly, acknowledging gratitude toward each other is a great way to feel closer in these trying times. Perhaps someone who has been a star performer all this while may have been missed by you. Perhaps one of your team members hasn’t had one on one with you for a while because of you being super busy with meetings. Now is the time to put all of this and more to good work.

Final thought: These days, when medical and public health officials have instructed us to practice social distancing, it’s important to be mindful of our natural abilities to maintain emotional proximity with our ‘newly remote’ team, to foster a sense of collaboration.