I have known, for some time now, maintaining relationships with others, takes time and effort. What I didn’t fully appreciate is how much more energy it takes while practicing social distancing.
It’s not as easy as it once was for a meet-up to catch up at restaurants. I find myself exhausted after being in back-to-back Zoom meetings, so finding the energy for another phone or video call to touch base with people is a struggle. Staying connected with clients, colleagues, friends, and family is more challenging.
Here’s the deal. Maintaining good relationships requires that I DO something. It’s not a passive activity.
When I hear people talk about how “no one ever reaches out,” or “I’ve not heard from XX in so long,” I think…what have you done to stay in touch?
Just like I’m responsible for my own happiness, I’m responsible for checking in on those I care about. There’s no getting around it – it takes energy.
The question for me is how can I best manage the energy I have so that I make the most of those efforts?
Here’s an approach I’m trying for both my personal and professional relationships…maybe it can work for you too.
Spoiler alert – Being intentional is the key!
- Once a week (I’m using Sunday), review my calendar and other reminders about upcoming milestones that affect people I care about, (i.e., birthdays, life events, medical procedures…yes, I’m in that age bracket). I’ve also paid closer attention to WHERE events are happening in the news. Updates on outbreaks, protests, and other news-worthy events come at us every day. If someone I care about lives in those locations, that will trigger me to add them to the list of people I want to reach out to that week.
- Think about how I want to connect – call, card, FaceTime, etc. It’s also a great way to use up my supply of stationery and cards!
- Add the activity to my calendar. I’m controlled by my calendar, so if it’s on there, I’m much more likely to make it happen.
- Apply my energy filter — is this someone worth my energy right now? This may sound harsh, but there are some people who are toxic and it doesn’t serve me well to maintain the relationship. If I focus on the people with whom I want to be around and care that we have a good long-term relationship, it helps me prioritize how to use that precious energy!
My experience so far has left me feeling like I’ve just cleaned out the junk closet! I’ve kept what’s valuable and important and gotten rid of the old things that no longer fit or serve a useful purpose in my life.
Once again, the COVID-19 crisis has given me the opportunity to reflect and prioritize what’s most important.
What a boost! Why not give it a go and see what happens.
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. If you’re looking to build a new relationship, follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.