" We were reminded that human connection isn’t an option, it’s a necessity".- Author, Keynote Speaker, Television Broadcaster
In 2020, everything changed, except for who we are. When social distancing became our next normal, so did our deep desire to stay connected in isolation. No, I’m not just talking about Zoom happy hours. Virtual workouts, weddings, and graduations are just a few examples of how we creatively connected remotely. We were reminded that human connection isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. Especially given that another difficult challenge already existed pre-COVID; loneliness.
Loneliness, commonly defined as the perceived lack of social connections, has long been a concern around the world. In 2017, The Vancouver Foundation discovered close to a third of people aged 18-24 in our city felt lonely. A 2019 study by the Angus Reid Institute later found that loneliness was a notable problem for people in Canada. Loneliness has been proven to negatively impact our mental and physical well-being, lifespan, and productivity. How do we combat this epidemic? Social connection.
While modern life and business innovation emphasize convenience, the coronavirus pandemic ignited the desire for connection. For instance, Canada was a leader with the ‘Caremongering’ campaign, where members of our communities helped each other during desperate times. The Caremongering YVR Facebook account is one small way the people in our ecosystem would reach out and offer support. Social media was finally being used for good. With a powerful idea, you can become the network and inspire others to create positive change.
There are many habits of human connection that build key relationships to help us thrive in uncertain times. Here are three simple strategies for creators and entrepreneurs to connect with their teams using a relationship-first mindset:
A few years ago, I had the chance to connect with thought leader Darren Hardy, the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine. Now, he’s a successful mentor to many CEOs around the world and I remember asking him, “what is the secret to having people open up in conversations?” He shared two words… ‘go first’. He said think about it, “if you want someone to give you something raw, authentic and vulnerable, teach them that it’s a safe space to open up and go first with something extraordinary that’s happened in your life.” This idea, especially in stressful times will invite others to do the exact same thing. If you can be as human as possible in your conversations and share your truth, watch how the nature of your relationships begins to change for the better.
An active listener asks the questions that help someone discover the meaning behind their own personal experiences. When people open up about their pain points, what if we didn’t try to fix their problem, but instead simply listened and felt their pain. Ask more questions, instead of instantly giving advice. Questions such as ‘what’s on your mind?’ and ‘tell me more’ are simple cues that enable us to lead by listening, allow others to feel seen and heard and ultimately build trust with clients, customers and co-workers.
For many, the fear of failure is kryptonite to projecting confidence. If self-doubt starts to become a factor, a popular tool to recalibrate your mindset is to draw from the After Action Review, a process developed by the U.S. Army. This system is used by organizations to help teams learn from failure, prevent future mistakes and discover new solutions to current problems. When we’re dealing with our next setback, to combat losing our confidence, embrace failure by asking these questions:
1. What was the desired outcome? Describe the ideal scenario.
2. What actually happened? Be honest about the reality, the good and the bad.
3. What went well and why? Look at the positives and document what worked well.
4. What can be improved and how? Be objective and learn from what went sideways and how can we adjust things for future projects.
If failure is feedback, these questions will provide the insight to build our confidence, allowing us to share important lessons that motivate others to navigate their next roadblock with more conviction.
Communities that are connected rally when crisis and disaster hit. This unified front is key for us to use adversity to our advantage and drive innovation. The result? A resilient mindset that can help us succeed in any situation, as we build an even greater new reality, together.
Bio: Riaz Meghji is a Keynote Speaker on Human Connection, Speaker Coach and 17 Year Television Broadcaster. He’s also the author of ‘Every Conversation Counts: The Five Habits Of Human Connection That Build Extraordinary Relationships’ (Released Feb 2021). For more info, check out RiazMeghji.com.