Before Covid-19 became an international pandemic, loneliness was already considered an epidemic in America and other parts of the world. Now people all over the world have been asked to keep to their homes for more than three months now, and it risks those struggling with loneliness going into a severe depression. But how does one make meaningful connections virtually, whether it’s personal or professional? Below are a few tips to help build meaningful connections, even if it must be done remotely:
Use Video Whenever Possible
In an article about how couples can stay connected if they were quarantining separately, The New York Times writes that looking people in the eyes and seeing a person’s face makes a huge difference in making a connection with someone, and keeping routines and traditions intact such as meeting for drinks, coffee, family dinners, etc. can be done virtually. Though the article is about couples, the advice can be easily applied to friendships and family. “You can use video chat to have daily moments of connection, maintain some of your couple routines (like cooking dinner together or watching your favorite Netflix show), and even have special date nights,” writes Vanessa Marin for the Times. “I recommend using video chat instead of (or in addition to) the phone or text, because there’s something powerful about seeing your partner’s face.”
Don’t Ask The Usual “How Are You Doing?” Ask Questions To Help People Open Up
Stock questions produce answers. In an article about how to make zoom meetings meaningful for co-workers on TED.com, organizational psychologist Adam Grant interviewed Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan, to discuss how to bond virtually with coworkers. Dutton said many professionals are tired of the usual “How are you?” question, and it rarely feels like a sincere opportunity to open up. “I’d suggest asking something like: ‘What did you do this week that you loved?’ Ask a question that taps quickly into something that’s meaningful to people and conveys ‘I am genuinely interested, and I genuinely care,’ said Dutton. “You could ask ‘Tell me a highlight of your day’ or ‘What’s gone well for you today?’ Positive emotion opens up more possibilities for exploring some of the negative or the vulnerable pieces later on.” She emphasizes focusing on positive emotions, and goes on to share a story about a Zoom meeting she had with her university development office, and how everyone went around and shared a silver lining for that week. The combination of acknowledging the negative and finding the positive in it helps build camaraderie and connection.
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