The Coronavirus has suddenly changed the way we greet and interact with other people. The things we did just last month – like handshakes at the office or high-fives with friends, have been temporarily nixed as a way to curtail the spread of the airborne killer.
Though the virus has fundamentally changed the way we interact with other people, those changes won’t be permanent. We will most likely all emerge on the other side of the pandemic by returning to our familiar greetings and mannerisms that are instinctual for us all.
- Handshakes to politely (and professionally) connect with others
- High-fives to share a mutual celebration
- Taps on the shoulder or arm to congratulate
- Holding hands or giving back scratches to our spouse
- Hugs for closer friends and family members
- Kisses for family and, perhaps, for *very* close friends
Human beings are social creatures – we need to be around one another, and touch is one of the most basic traits of being a human. The fact is we need touch.
Touch reduces stress and even calms bodily functions like high blood pressure. And, it instantly gives us a feeling of connection. Of being loved.
It’s very real, and it’s never going away.
The adjustments we’ve made because of the Coronavirus are drastic measures aimed at stemming the relentless spread of a deadly airborne virus. Though they are temporary, they could forever change the way we interact with other people.
Elbow taps instead of handshakes. Some people are giving polite bows. Others are tapping feet. It’s a strange and drastic change. And sometimes, it’s downright funny.
“Are we doing this?” Apparently Prince Charles keeps forgetting not to shake hands with people!
The virus is fundamentally changing how we interact with others in four primary ways.
Let’s take a look at each of these, below.
Working from home
Though remote positions won’t work well for every business, forced office closures have given businesses reason to try it. As thousands of people suddenly work from home, both businesses, as well as staff, are discovering remote work for the very first time.
And, companies might be surprised at its impact.
For many of us, working from home reduces stress. No commute means we spend far less money on gas and time sitting in our cars. With tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, collaboration among coworkers is getting easier and easier.
And, many businesses have found that remote positions have drastically improved employee retention and productivity, reduced absences and saved costs on real estate.
But, working a remote position means we personally interact with people very differently. We are forced to communicate through email or instant message rather than walking over to another cube or office. We can’t solve problems with impromptu meetings at someone’s desk.
It may work great for some of us, but others will still need face-to-face communication. And, many businesses won’t be able to survive without it.
Being more conscious of community and connection
High profile tragedies and struggles have a way of bringing the community together. After the September 11th attacks, we witnessed an entire country coming together. We instantly began to appreciate each other more. We hugged our kids. We vowed never to miss another birthday party or t-ball game.
Although the emotions that surround high profile tragedies tend to fade, people take these opportunities to re-evaluate their priorities. To form healthier habits.
And, the Coronavirus is no different. We’ve learned how quickly viruses can spread, but also how important it is to support our neighbors, friends and family.
On the other side of this outbreak, many of us will be much more mindful of how important our communities are and the impact that supporting those around us truly makes.
Appreciation of teachers, trashmen, delivery drivers, healthcare workers
Most of us don’t think much about those people who do thankless jobs in our communities. But, those jobs have a huge impact on keeping our society humming along.
Teachers literally shape our futures. Garbagemen ensure our cities don’t get overrun with disease-filled waste. Delivery drivers literally deliver goods straight to our doorstep and healthcare workers like doctors and nurses save lives – every day.
But, that’s not all.
Workers stand for hours stocking grocery store shelves with food. Customer service staff deal with angry and frustrated people. Contractors build our homes in extreme heat or bitter cold. Civil engineers construct bridges (that don’t collapse!).
These are often thankless roles in our society that we don’t tend to appreciate until an event like the Coronavirus outbreak or terrorist attack forces us to. We forget about these people…until we’re jolted into remembering.
As we emerge on the other side and return back to work and to our normal way of life, let’s not forget about the layer of thankless work that supports our entire first world foundation. Take the time to appreciate these people by thanking them.
Or once the virus has passed, give them a handshake. Let these people know that we appreciate what they are doing and that we haven’t forgotten about their impact on society.
Importance of social communication
Lastly, we need to communicate. All of us. Human beings don’t thrive when locked away and without contact with the outside world. We don’t work well that way.
Some of us are more social than others, but the majority of us need a base level of interaction with those around us, and the Coronavirus reminds us once again of how impactful that being social is in our lives. It’s something that we cannot take for granted.
Our kids need to play with their friends, but right now they can’t. We love going to lunch with our local group of compadres, but right now, we aren’t. No dinner dates. No Disney World trips.
The fact is things are very, very different right now. And, these differences will give us an appreciation of how our society usually functions once we return to business as usual.
We’ll notice those lunches. We’ll realize how quiet the house is when our kids are once again outside playing with their friends. Our next vacation probably won’t feel like a normal trip, will it?
In the end, the Coronavirus spread will eventually stop. We all will go back to our lives as we’ve always known them. We’ll return to the office, give handshakes, visit restaurants and see our friends. Fundamentally, those things won’t change.
But what might change is our appreciation of the world around us. Those who do thankless jobs. Our freedom to choose how we spend our time and the contact that we make with those around us – like hugs, high-fives and shoulder taps.
We can’t take those things for granted.