During the epidemic our ability to meet and interact with each has been severely diminished. I attended an online funeral on Monday and it really brought home to me just meaningless an online experience could be and feel compared with the actual smell, touch experience of actually being there. It was as though I was watching a film or a news report. It got me thinking about although technology is very clever and allows us to do so much it can leave us socially and emotionally impoverished. Then I was reading about the is growing evidence that the past year of lockdowns has had an impact on young children’s language skills leaving an increased number of four and five year olds needing help with language.
While the government is putting money into supporting these children there are many areas of their development that will be lost to them. Well, if not lost they will need to do some serious catching up. Alongside reading ability and language we have to add social skills. There has been less or no contact with grandparents, social distancing from friends and family, no play dates. Plus, the wearing of face coverings in public have left children less exposed to conversations and everyday experiences and facial body language. Children will need a lot of support from us all if they are to avoid the deficits that could well be affecting them right now and in their future development.
So, if that is true for the kids what about the rest of us. Many of our relationships will have become changed and some may be broken or fractured by the lack of nurturing that is required to maintain normal relationships. Some of us have felt completely isolated, some have become reclusive. Others have felt abandoned. As one client put it, ‘I now see my true value to people. Those that have cared have kept in touch and to others I have been completely forgotten. How am I supposed to go back to work with these people and pretend that we do have a relationship?’
This might be a good time to begin to rebuild relationships. Perhaps we need to catch up with friends and colleagues, check out how they have been doing and share our own experiences. These relationships have been and are the basis of our community and sense of being together. It can odd going back into the office after a two week holiday and that feeling of needing to catch up and get back in the groove. After months of lockdown and furlough it is likely to feel very strange.
It is good to remember that the key to rebuilding a relationship is listening. People need to talk and share as much as we do. Giving them the space to say what they need to draws them in and recreates their sense of value. In most cases they will then give you the value and ask, ‘what’s about you?’.
In the lane that I live there is an unused plot of land. Some of the neighbours have started a type of community allotment and suggested that I should come on over and bring a spade. This seems like the sort of project that will help rebuild the community around us after all being isolated and locked down in our bubbles.
So my resource for the week is to get out your address book, though these days it would be open your contacts, and decide who you need to contact. This might begin with a message or a call and perhaps a meet up. How much better will your working relationships be if you do a bit of rebuilding before you get back into the workplace?
Take care and start or keep talking