When it comes to maintaining relationships, technology has been a mixed blessing. It has allowed many of us to stay in touch with family and friends who are too far away to see on a regular basis. But it has also given us a lazy pass to avoid the face-to-face time with those closest to us.
With the arrival of COVID-19 and our requirement to maintain social distancing, it’s forcing us to review our use of technology in relationships.
Have we been sacrificing our relationships this whole time?
Think about your living situation. Most of us are now required to be with our families or roommates all day, every day. In the past, we could escape if a situation became too much or was uncomfortable (think about how many people NEED to go the movies during a holiday week, just to get out of the house and away from their families).
In our COVID-19 world, we have no quick escape. We have to stay put and work it out.
It might seem tough, but let me suggest a new way to see this: an opportunity to improve your existing relationships. I see this time as learning through immersion.
The best way to see this is with languages. When you really want to develop great language proficiency, you spend time in that country. You are surrounded by it in every aspect of your days. You can feel overwhelmed by it or you can see it for the opportunity to develop skills quickly. Your attitude about it will determine your success with it.
We are in a similar situation now. We have been immersed in our relationships. By changing your attitude about it, along with these ideas, we can use this unique moment to build better, more sustainable and more effective relationships.
- Acknowledge your situation. Have a family or apartment meeting to identify the elephant in the room. Pretending that all communication and interactions will be easy when you are forced to spend time with each other won’t serve you well. Instead, see that this moment will require more from each of you and a goal could be a collective focus on getting along better and building better relationships.
- Create new rules. We know that sometimes in relationships, we can trigger each other by what we say, how we say it or, sometimes, what we don’t say. Gather ideas for rules that will encourage open, caring, professional and managed communications throughout the day. Holding each other accountable to create, support and comply with the rules can get everyone on the same page. Use the rules to focus on building and sustaining quality relationships, not to spark competition, fights or holding a grudge.
- Share more of yourself and learn more about others. Make time to get to better know the people in your environment. Most of the time, we only know a little about each other, or we share only a little about ourselves. This is true even for families. Use this quarantine time to ask deeper questions, listen more generously, understand each other more significantly and connect more personally. Think of the people who get stranded in a bus station or airport because of a storm. As the time progresses, they realize that the quality of their experience will be in how they connect and support each other. They frequently leave the situation as friends or even just more appreciative of each other.
Four weeks in, are you frustrated with the quarantine? Or are you finding your relationships with family members, friends / roommates are getting better?
We can react and be frustrated or disappointed that we are in this situation, but this is an ineffective use of energy and emotion. Instead, create and act on the intention to use this moment to build stronger relationships. Use this moment to be more present, gather and share more information and come away more informed and connected.
The world will send what it will send – COVID-19 or something else. At first glance, we can be discouraged by it. But, if you reframe your thinking to see the opportunity in whatever comes your way, you will always be impressed, instead of disappointed, by life.
Check out our upcoming FREE 30-minute webinar on How to Have Your Relationships Survive Quarantine on April 15, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Register to reserve your spot.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading Don’t Be An Ostrich