WHY WE NEED AUTHENTIC CONNECTION NOW MORE THAN EVER
Why we need authentic connection now more than ever
2020 did not go the way most of us planned. Who knew phrases like ‘the new normal’, ‘challenging times’ and ‘social distancing’ would slip into our vernacular as easily as those activewear tights slip on most mornings these days (am I right?). Here’s how I’ve stayed connected with others during these uncertain times and why we need authentic connection opportunities more than ever before.
During lockdown #1 it’s fair to say I reached Zoom capacity. Otherwise known as the state you get to when every social activity in your world resorts to Zoom. I was Zoom gym-ing, Zoom book-clubbing, Zoom calling-the-grandparents-ing, Zoom Saturday-night-wine-ing/whining. And of course, SWS coffee chats and Friday afternoon drinks.
But these were important because they helped maintain connection. Much-needed human contact in a time of such upheaval and unease. I craved familiarity – to speak with and see friends who suddenly seemed so far away and family who were conservatively isolating.
What I realised was, there’s a balance. I wound back some of the video calls if I felt my energy was being drained. If there was the option to transition to a phone call, I would. After all, the chance for long phone chats with friends was a novelty. No hasty text messages or leaving it days between contact because #busy. The need for human company was real. The uncertainty, unease and unfamiliarity was unsettling.
Exploring client relationships IRL
Talk about breaking the fourth wall. I had calls where I saw my clients’ messy lounge rooms, young children, snack plates, pets and trackies. I saw into their lives and they saw into mine. Interestingly, this authentic connection has changed our working relationships for the better moving forward. Here’s why.
- Communication transformed into total, upfront honesty at all times. It had to, just to prepare people for the 4 year-old who would likely wander in and sit on my lap during a Zoom and pop an ear pod in his ear for a listen. Likewise, both corporate and small business clients had young, screaming babies at home. It became just a natural part of our meetings and chats, where we actually checked in on how each other were going.
- I proved to clients – even those who had been rigidly opposed to remote work – that the work would always get done. We built in flexibility around how, with the understanding that things could change at any moment during the day. I could make up the time in the evenings, when things were quiet. Or take an extra day or two. Content could wait. It wasn’t frontline stuff, for goodness sake.
Taking the connection offline
To get a tech break, I started each morning in lockdown with a long walk. I soon discovered a couple of friends and connections in the area who were doing the same. So, socially distanced – or SD – walks became a thing. Conversations that would ordinarily happen over text, Facebook Messenger or Instagram DMs became real, human conversations with a face. These walks were valuable opportunities to talk through big feelings, navigate challenges and uplift one another. They spurred us on for another week, another day, even just the next few hours. It was a case of stronger together.
In times of change, we need some things to stay the same
One of my lifelines during this time has been the familiarity and steadfast support from the She Will Shine community. With a level of intimacy already well established within the group, we allowed ourselves to feel vulnerable together. While in my own home context, I tried hard to stay positive for our household, our Shiner Zooms were a place I could let my guard down. We talked openly of the stresses and challenges of home-schooling and taking care of young children. The pull between work and family and the excessive mental load. A lot of my friends don’t relate to small business life. This group has my back and really understands the unique pressures on women in business. Hey, we can run successful businesses; we can navigate a global pandemic together.
We’re better together
We don’t know what the near or distant future will bring for us – our businesses, families, and ourselves. What we do know is that the power of real connection can do so much to sustain us when we’re in unchartered waters. When everything we know changes. When we’re grieving what we’ve missed and what will no longer be. One thing I know is we truly cannot do it alone.
Continue this conversation in our business community by becoming a She Will Shine Member today. Join the She Will Shine business network today and connect with a community of Australia-wide women business owners.
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About Emma McMillan
Emma is your copy sidekick. She collaborates with time-poor established small business owners, marketing teams and agencies to create content they can be proud of that speaks to their audience. Her 1:1 copy coaching service is perfect for those who want to learn copy skills and develop the courage to DIY.