I work with many clients who are struggling with connecting with others due to many interactions have become virtual since March, especially with coworkers. With this lack of social connection, I have definitely seen an increase in depression in my clients as many times loneliness and depression can go hand in hand. One of my jobs as my clients’ clinician is to better help them find creative ways to connect with others, especially while in this pandemic. I often tell clients it is important to social distance, but that doesn’t mean we need to socially disconnect from others.
I recently read an article from Fast Company that touched on this very topic titled, “5 ways to connect with people almost instantly, even when you’re remote” by author Gwen Moran. Below describes Moran’s key points from her article about how to connect with your coworkers in the virtual world we are currently living in for the indefinite future.
- Ask open ended questions. Business coach Christina Noel states the importance of making these virtual connections with coworkers more personal and this can be done simply by asking open ended questions. Maybe this means asking your coworker about how their kids/family are doing during this crazy time or asking them what kind of movies they have been watching lately. People typically feel more connected to others when others ask open ended questions.
- Reflective language. Public speaking coach Nick Morgan recommends mirroring what the other person is saying, which is similar to reflective listening skills. For example, if your coworker is stating they are anxious about presenting on topic XYZ, you could respond back by stating, “Yes, you seem anxious about this presentation, let’s work together on helping to reduce that anxiety.” Morgan also recommends mirroring back their tone of voice and speed of which they are talking. If you find that you talk at a rapid pace and your coworker talks a bit slower, then you too should slow down your pace when talking.
- Lean into the discomfort. Yes, doing everything virtually is a bit awkward at first, but it is the world we are all currently living in; thus, we do need to lean into the discomfort and overcome it in order to be successful and cope with the new normal. Simply just being cognizant and aware that with any form of videoconferencing, there might be a lack of connection due to technology errors. I certainly have noticed that while providing Zoom sessions with my clients. Simply calling it out as opposed to ignoring the elephant in the room is a much better way to cope with the awkwardness.
- Coffee meetings (virtually). One of the things I miss from working in the office is seeing my colleagues in the hallway and grabbing a quick cup of coffee in between sessions. Unfortunately, that no longer has been the norm since March. Leadership coach Kevin Eikenberry recommends making time with coworkers to have a virtual coffee meeting. Sure, it’s a bit different than going into the closest coffee shop, but you certainly don’t need to deal with the long lines and slightly over priced coffee, so there is that advantage! Likely, your coworkers have also missed coffee meetings and will gladly accept that calendar invite!
- Being Mindful. Morgan recommends making meetings with intentions. Like previously mentioned, we no longer have the ability for side chit chat in the hallways or coffee shops. Morgan recommends that when starting the meeting with your coworker to identify what the meeting is for; as in, is it to just catch up with each other or is the meeting for focusing on different projects coming up.
The global pandemic is certainly not easy on our mental health, please keep in mind that reaching out to your coworkers, friends, and family is imperative to cope with this crazy time we are all currently living in.
If you are currently struggling with isolation and loneliness, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled therapists at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment for online counseling in Chicago.