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Think about how many times you have heard someone say or said to yourself, “I wish things would just go back to normal.” Leading a virtual team has presented its unique challenges and required adjustment through a few changes. Leaders will have many questions on managing virtual performance, but does that mean we should be hoping for a future that looked the same as our past?

The storm of 2020 provides an opportunity for many to re-examine their purpose and goals for both their personal and professional life. One survey by Gallup, taken January of 2020, looked at 7,500 full-time employees. 23% of those workers said they were feeling burned out. By December of 2020, 76% of employed Americans report they are currently experiencing burnout. The pandemic took its toll on the overall attitude towards employment by many.

Nationwide loneliness is another product of the pandemic that we have all felt. Social distancing prevents us from being able to hug, high-five, and fully find gratitude in the relationships we have. Our most intimate relationships have suffered, so “normal” is not really what we’re looking for if “normal” is going back to 50 plus hour work weeks, long hours in commute to the office, with work-life balance at an all-time low.

Community is vital in nurturing healthy relationships. Our friends, the people who we care about and devote our time to, improve our wellness. We crave emotional intimacy and should appreciate the products of a valuable friendship. Creating a shift in the workplace’s normality requires attention to the most prominent relationships in life by making time for loved ones, communicating openly and safely, and proactively staying in touch. Read more about emotionally intelligent relationships in this article.

The shift we are looking for is reinventing the utilization of what you do best and asking, “How can I be of service to others, whether that be to my company, family, or community that would utilize my talents to the fullest?” Here are three strategies to help focus on your relationships first as we move into another new “normal.”

1. Keep up with your meaningful relationships. 

In a virtual world, emotional conversations present their own adversities. Managing emotions, resolving conflict, and creating meaningful alignment must be learned. Compassion is vital to our well-being. The best place to show compassion and love is through meaningful personal and professional relationships. 

William James wrote, “Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendships and intimacies…and yet they leave their friendships and intimacies with no cultivation, to grow as they will by the roadside, expecting them to “keep” by force of mere inertia.”

Friendships surround us daily, but the intentional cultivation of those relationships provides meaningful growth and prosperous joy in life.

2. Gratitude goes a long way

Simply saying “thank you” or “I’m sorry” when it is called for fosters healthy relationships with the people around us. Making amends with someone you have hurt takes mindful planning and four steps when it is time to apologize. Improving the quality of your relationships is of far greater importance than the number of people you can call your friend. 

3. Enjoyment improves life satisfaction, so use your time wisely.

In our Meaningful Alignment workshops, we implement the specific mindful meditation of “Loving Kindness.” Time, effort, and patience direct kindness towards yourself and others. Take the time to focus on your most intimate relationships and the relationships that test your patience. Putting yourself in the shoes of others takes empathy and a willingness to understand situations from another perspective.

What now?

Take an honest assessment of where you are in every important relationship in your life. On a 1-10 scale (one being the lowest and ten being the highest), how would I rate each of these relationships right now? What is at least one thing that I can do to move that number up the scale? What is possible if I did improve that relationship even by one number up on the scale?


Links from this article:

What Top Leaders Are Asking Me about Leading in A Virtual World…and my answers

This Is How To Make Emotionally Intelligent Friendships: 6 Secrets

High Stakes Conversations Over Virtual Platforms

4 Steps To Take When You Need To Say, “I’m sorry.”

Try This Loving-Kindness Meditation to Support Compassion and Wellbeing

When in doubt, choose empathy

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