How Loss Made Me Appreciate the Authentic Connection

Over the last few years since the beginning of the COVID pandemic and all that spawned, we’ve become a remote workforce, and in some ways a remote society in terms of connectivity. Work days are filled with virtual meetings and we come home (or emerge from our home office ) to a multitude of smart devices. With all this technology you would think it would be easy to be technically connected with colleagues, friends and family. But are we? Are we truly connecting?

Most that know me well would say that I do a good job of staying in touch with family, friends & colleagues, old and new. I try to make this a priority and believe that I’m better than some, but I do fail at times. I’ve recently experienced some loss of family & friends that always makes me wish I had been in better touch, or said things that I wanted to say, or a variety of other minor regrets that come with loss. Do I really take every opportunity that I have to tell people how I feel, that I care for them, love them, enjoy them, and give them other positive and encouraging feedback? Do I do this consistently? Something to ponder in a continually less connected world (ironic, don’t you think?).

Beyond our families & friends, this idea also applies to our client relationships & interactions.  The beginning of your meeting may start with exchanging pleasantries, for example: “kids are good, Anna did great in the spelling bee, family is coming into town for the holidays - what does everyone else have going on?”. Beyond a quick check-in before jumping into business do we really let people know how we feel about them in terms of our working relationships, the dynamics of our teams, etc.? To be clear, I’m not suggesting you take up a lot of your meeting time with small talk but, perhaps consider taking those first couple minutes to change the narrative and express gratitude in your partnership. 

I believe that sometimes there is an artificial wall that forms around these relationships, making it difficult or uncomfortable for us to say things that might sound too personal in a client relationship. There are boundaries that have existed in these kinds of relationships for many years. Any kind of feedback usually comes in the form of annual review requests or some other formal process, but what about just telling folks randomly how we feel? What I’ve found is most people are receptive to hearing such feedback, as we’re all human and it’s good to hear these things at a human level. It often comes as a surprise for people to receive this, but sometimes it can even give someone a boost in their day. Also, barriers get broken down, commonalities are discovered and bonds are formed.

As we head into the new year, consider opening up more to those around you. Let people know how you feel about them and their interactions with you. You never know when your words will give someone the boost they need on a given day. Taking action on this puts many out of their comfort zone for sure, but isn’t that how we grow? And if we can grow while also giving someone a lift at the same time, what’s wrong with that?