We must stay at least 6 feet away from people physically, but that mandate doesn’t mean we cannot and should not communicate. In these tumultuous times when the U.S. government is imploring us to “socially distance” ourselves because of coronavirus or COVID-19, the need to reach out to people in other ways couldn’t be greater.

What the government might soon realize is “physical distancing” should give way to more “social proximity.” By connecting with people through others means we provide the support we all will need to overcome the current challenges.

First of all, people are social so we all need contact. In times of adversity and uncertainty, we crave interaction more. We need to process and pontificate, we need to express and explain, and we need to joke and complain. These needs are as human as our DNA.

Second, we have time. What often was our excuse – real or perceived – no longer applies. Even those of us working from home have more time on our hands than ever before. Remove social dinners, the movies, concerts, sports on TV or in person away and most of us are made of free time. Use that time to contact people you haven’t talked to or should have talked to. Your reward will be a smile you can sense through the phone.

Better yet re-establish contact by Skype, Zoom or FaceTime and see for yourself. None of these platforms are nearly as complicated as people make them out to be. I have taught people how to use each of them in less that 5 minutes. Someone you know can walk you through it, or you can find a tutorial on YouTube.

Third, people actually are answering their phones. One of my doctors who is difficult to talk to called me one day this week to check in. I have heard from various business associates that people who are hidden behind the great wall of gatekeepers suddenly are exposed to their own phones. Because no one else is at the office, they answer the calls themselves. In a few cases, the executive told me he or she has nothing better to do.

Fourth, opportunities may appear. As I reach out to people who disappeared from my mind because of more pressing matters, I am learning more about my clients and their needs. By paying close attention and documenting what they say, I am building a catalog of potential blog topics, video ideas and service offerings. Consider it focus group that I am conducting each day.

Fifth and finally, you get to practice an often-forgotten skill. Most of us get really good at talking about what we talk about each day, whether it’s our marketing blurb, an elevator pitch or what we do for a living. The types of discussions I am advocating don’t run that way. They require us to listen and contribute from a place of being a person, of exposing some of our vulnerabilities, of trusting and truly caring. Nothing bad can come from out being real people.

We can replace coffee, hugs and kisses with caring, helping and concern. Those three qualities will do more to help us through the coming days, weeks and possibly months than anything else.

Bob Graham is CEO of Breakthrough Solutions, a Maryland-based company where he coaches, trains and speaks on how businesses can be more profitable and productive. He can be reached at 937-754-5575 and at http://breakthroughsolutions.co.

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