Let’s change the conversation to physical distancing & social connection

How the world has changed since our last newsletter! March was an interesting month for our sports and the sporting community as a whole, as we prepared for the transition into zero competition and online training and ‘physical distancing’.  The World Health Organisation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic spoke about the need for ‘social distancing’, however, we feel it is important that we think about the importance of increased social connection at a time when we have all been asked to ‘physically distance’ ourselves from all but those in our immediate family. Our use of words being important to the environments we create.

So how can we increase our social connections? We need to appreciate personally and as communities, the power of connections. The importance of these short-term moments of connection to physical, mental, psychological, social and emotional health. They are the nutrients to our flourishing.

Jane Dutton, an international expert is creating positive organisations, in a recent webinar to address our current needs during COVID-19, spoke of having a planned process for social connection using technology that involves three steps and four pathways to connect:

Step #1: PRE WORK – be prepared for the connection by ensuring that the technology works and you have everything you need for the engagement including a list of questions that show genuine interest and curiosity in the person you are meeting with.

Step #2: CONNECTIONS – Jane suggests four pathways to building High Quality Connections:

Respectful Engagement – Be respectful of people’s time and establish some ground rules like the timing of the meeting – it is suggested that 45 minutes is a good length for a conversation. Engage in a way that sends a message that the person you are connecting with is of value and worth to us (e.g. show appreciation for them in some way).

Task Enabling – see if there is a way to help or facilitate another person’s successful performance or achievement. Encourage task enabling by asking during the conversation for the sharing of one appreciation and one thing that they require help with. A focus on resourcing one another is a great way to build connection.

Creating Trust – convey to the other person that we believe they will meet our expectations and are dependable (e.g. share deeply with them and give them responsibility for something).

Be prepared to be vulnerable. Everyone knows that at this time there are some good things that come from self-isolation but there are some tricky things too. Be prepared to share your own vulnerability and hopefully the person you speak with will share theirs.

Playing – Be creative with our interactions. Participate in a game, share funny memes, articles or stories that are light-hearted and fun. Positive emotions we know build high quality connections and open us up to creativity.

Step #3: POST WORKshow gratitude and create some actions from the connection. Be sure to follow through on those actions. All this is part of building trust.

Not all of our interactions will be planned so be sure to let people know that you are also available and open to spontaneous connections too. This is much harder when you are not sitting in the next desk but even sending a quick text to see if they are available for a chat is a way of respecting their time but letting them know you are thinking of them and keen to chat when they are free.

We encourage our community to socially connect as often as you can to share the highs and lows of our time in isolation. Our hope is that we emerge the other side with greater knowledge of how to build wellbeing and resilience and most importantly we have some real live experience of how it has worked for us and those we love and care for.