21 Jun 3 Ways Communication Catalysts Convert Post-Pandemic Anxieties to Mutual Benefits
How many people will you reach?
© Drawing by Ani Bustamante
3 Ways Communication Catalysts Convert Post-Pandemic Anxieties to Mutual Benefits
© 2021 by Ruth Schimel, PhD
Career & Life Management Consultant, Author
Savor new flavors as your new situation simmers. Whether returning to in-person work or entering new situations, you already have useful insights and experience from the Covid year. Aspects will provide mutual benefits as they contribute to successful transitions in these times of accelerating, unpredictable change. You also have the agency to experiment with the wide range of promising communication strategies here. In large part, anxieties will fade as your actions improve old and create better rhythms of relating to others and to doing work.
Should You Go Back to the Office? by Rachel Feintzeig usefully addresses real-world situations awaiting. https://www.wsj.com/articles/back-to-the-office-or-remote-work-from-home-11620407665?page=1
A country named Post-Pandemia is emerging almost wherever you go. Its geography has rivers of hope and new behaviors as well as mountains of unknowns such as climate change, Covid variants, and possibly uncomfortable feelings.
How safe will things be? What situations will retain the comfort and predictability of sameness? What has changed in work and relationships? Where are the new, better opportunities to find and create?
As political scientist Eleanor Ostrom showed in her work on successful systems or efforts to improve complex situations, “all is possible, but nothing is guaranteed.” Such realities open opportunities for you, as you choose to act.
Though many worthwhile aspects of life are messy and uncontrollable, you can influence them for the better. No doubt you’ve seen you can make a positive difference in relationships and work when they are important enough to you to move beyond automatic pilot and comfort zones. Paradoxically, even uncertainty opens new possibilities. See practical guidance and leads in this article by Elizabeth Bernstein: How to Handle Your Re-Entry Anxiety as the Pandemic Recedes https://on.wsj.com/3tQE9Nv
To use effective, patient, ethical communication to move past anxieties, start with yourself where you have the greatest influence. Then, invigorate the connections you have with others by freshening communication with people you already know or think you know. Finally, explore, sample, and savor additional opportunities awaiting you as you generate new contacts that emerge from changed situations.
Following are suggestions related to these three opportunities for your successes in communication for mutual benefits.
- Improving communication with yourself.
So much internal chatter to quiet. That includes over-thinking, second guessing, self-criticism, and labels that limit you. They all tend to be repetitive, as they reside in your mind; they also suck up precious time and energy. After a while even clever analysis distracts and leads to stasis, unless useful synthesis ignites motivation for action.
Instead, splice hope into conversations with yourself. Permeating your thoughts, emotions, and eventually actions with hope is sometimes called “pathway thinking” because it creates a variety of roads forward. That avoids being stuck in emotional traffic jams or going backward because you feel disheartened or let anxiety lead you. https://www.fastcompany.com/90632327/a-neuroscientist-on-how-to-thrive-after-a-year-spent-indoors
As you walk new roads, avoid the rutted detours. Limiting labels you pin on yourself could lead to succumbing to biases about yourself, keeping you trapped in self-fulfilling prophecies. Alternatively, take advantage of this time of transition to experiment with trying new descriptions of yourself. They open doors to adventure as well as temporary mistakes that often provide insights and better directions.
For example, do you label yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Another choice is to practice being an ambivert or omnivert which can combine the best of each style of relating. https://bit.ly/3om9shP To expand your repertoire whenever possible, use this post-pandemic time for encouraging wider talents and associations.
To create productive assumptions about your nature now, name about three positive words or short descriptive phrases to avoid confining labels. Criteria for them could be:
- Do they energize me?
- Do they promote optimism?
- Do they make me feel hopeful about my strengths and possibilities?
- Do they encourage me to seek better paths?
- Do they enrich my positive qualities such as self-awareness and caring?
- Freshen communication with current connections
One of my regrets about communicating with my parents over time is that I did not directly ask them about themselves and their experiences. I can now extrapolate some ideas from photographs, remnants of stories, and experiences in common. But they do not have the immediacy that comes from conversations with each parent.
What two or three people would you like to get to know better? Try asking open-ended questions such as the following or use your own.
- What is your favorite memory from childhood?
- What recent experience that has meaning for you would you like to share with me?
- Who made a positive difference in your work and learning? How did they do that?
One communication routine you may want to reconsider and refresh is the “How are you?” “How are you doing?” gambits when you see or meet someone again. They tend to elicit or end in something equally bland or routine.
Instead, consider showing some enthusiasm about the opening of opportunities for re-connecting, catching up, and looking for future possibilities. Here are some ways to initiate and sustain satisfying conversations, to escape the shallows. Given the value and evanescence of time, improve and add to these ideas to suit your style and nature.
- Refer to mutual interests as you ask about what emerged for them during the Covid year.
- Share something personal about your own feelings and experiences to demonstrate openness and trust. When there’s time and you sense interest, tell a very short story that’s relevant to the conversation.
- Take the time to elicit and listen to any story about themselves they are willing to tell. As Mr. Rogers said, “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
- Express specific gratitude about experiences you shared, memories in common that you value, and contributions the other person made to your development and understanding.
- Comment positively and specifically about something you notice and appreciate in the other person.
Possibly adding to your own ideas for meaningful conversation, is psychologist Lucy Foulkes’ guide: https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-have-more-meaningful-conversations
- Develop new contacts and connections.
Use online opportunities. Believe it or not, Zooming can lead to new contacts when you stay alert to common interests and follow up online or by phone. When that connection evolves organically, when the other person shows some interest or at least curiosity, the connection can have legs for continuing conversation.
Interview. If you like to write, identify a few subjects that inspire you. Then, reach out to people who have similar interests; ask for an interview for attribution in an article as a way to generate a new connection.
Be a fan. Another way to reach out is to write a sincere, open, pithy fan letter or email that shows your understanding and appreciation of the person’s ideas without fawning. Perhaps share some complementary, relevant information and sources that would possibly interest or benefit them. In other words, give them something tangible and useful.
Join up. Finally, explore a group that has promise for expanding and deepening your life. Reflecting your values or at least relating to your curiosity, it could range from spiritual to professional. When your interest is sustained, stick with it long enough to prove your commitment and credibility to other members and add to your own development or pleasure.
To keep quelling anxieties, bring your experiments in communication together to benefit yourself and others.
In fact, giving to others in ways that match their values and interests is a fruitful maxim.
- What one or two gifts of enhanced communication will you give yourself to strengthen and prepare for living well in the world of Post-Pandemia?
- How will you refresh and energize current relationships?
- How will you generate and sustain new connections that have potential meaning to you?
Authentic action is within your power. Start with small steps that build confidence for igniting successful communication to continue dispelling anxieties. In the process, avoid mere busyness in favor of attention to expressing purpose and having fun. As those choices make your true self apparent to yourself and to others, new opportunities are also likely to emerge serendipitously for everyone’s benefit.
Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. She guides clients in animating their strengths and making visions for current and future work viable. Get your bonus first chapter of Ruth’s now available seventh book, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future and benefit from her invitation to a free consultation on her website.
This article was originally featured on Your Tango and has been republished here in the author’s text with permission. https://www.yourtango.com/experts/ruthschimel/ways-communication-catalysts-convert-post-pandemic-anxieties-mutual-benefits