Let Our Humanity Shine Through All Our Communication

All our relationships are now virtual. Skyping your aunt in France was normal – now you’re Skyping your next-door neighbor. This new reality, created by the coronavirus, is an opportunity to rethink how we communicate.

At a time when everything seems to have stopped, let real communication start again. Let’s fill our days with rich conversations and allow our humanity to shine.

Reach out to family, friends, neighbors and colleagues by simply calling them or sharing a detailed, colorful e-mail rather than an abbreviated text. You have the time. Remember stamps? For fun – why not send a slew of inspiring/funny postcards? Or a personal note to a friend feeling the pressure of isolation – that will require a pen and paper, by the way.

Students, most of whom are stuck at home, are being encouraged to write to residents in nursing homes. Let’s get creative about communicating again!

Enhance, not just maintain, relationships – even the one with yourself

A 2013 article in the Harvard Business Review reminds us that “the beauty of a well-crafted handwritten note is that it can show deeper investment and appreciation than a simple thank-you can.”

And the personal benefits of writing are equally rewarding. Research says it has been shown to boost happiness, support brain development and increased connection. It slows down life’s stressful pace, letting you pause long enough to say things that matter.

Enrich your texts and e-mails; consider talking and envelopes

Self-isolation doesn’t have to be lonely, as ironic as that may seem. Let’s embrace this challenge as a time to renew our communication efforts on a very personalized level.

Reaching out to someone verbally on your cellphone, or enriching your language via text/email or mailing them a letter has positive mental health effects:

  • It confirms the significance of that relationship – Spending more time on communicating with someone is an investment in that friendship or partnership.
  • It creates a wonderful surprise for the recipient – We’d all like to receive something other than bills in our mailbox. And a text that is longer than six words and shares something thoughtful? What a delight.
  • It gives you the time to say what really matters – It’s intentional and not reactionary. Our texts and IMs are full of abbreviations, requests and quick responses. More focused communication forces us to breathe, think about our message and the recipient more earnestly.

This time of uncertainty is new to all of us. Let’s bring back something old – or old-school, as it were. The world needs a personal touch right now. Let’s give it to them:

  • Don’t rush the FaceTime call – ask with intent, “how are you?” There’s humanity in it.
  • Stop texting your friend and start calling them instead. There’s humanity in it.
  • Grateful for someone in your life? Write them a note. There’s humanity in that.

So go on, speak words of comfort. Or as Shakespeare put it, “Speak comfortable words.”

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