Nurture Your Relationships

“To be kept strong, a relationship 

must be attended too regularly.

It doesn’t need constant attention,

but it does need regular attention.”

This one was inspired by Gail…Thanks!

I wonder how Kenny and Todd are doing?  Hopefully Biely’s construction business was able to muster through this mess.  Word has it that Tater’s new accounting firm has come back strong, but unfortunately some of the others have lost their jobs due to cuts and furloughs associated with the shut-down.  A year ago I would have seen Kenny, Todd, Bielly, Tater and the others at the Club every Thursday evening.  On Friday nights, after home football games, we would meet again and while enjoying a cold one, laud or critique (dependent on game’s outcome) the coach’s choice of plays.  The Club was a place where many relationships began, were nurtured and continued for years.  The small quarters of the club, filled with friends trading stories, watching sports events, and enjoying a drink together, now seems like a distant memory and a good place to pick up this virus.  I don’t go there anymore. 

COVID-19 has changed our world in so many ways, but beyond the economic impact, this virus has the potential to change us as social beings.  No one ever imagined a world in which the government implemented lockdowns, limited public gatherings, cancelled sporting, political and cultural gatherings, closed retail stores, bars and restaurants, encouraged people to work from home, and promoted it all with the motto,“Stay Strong, Stay Safe, Stay Home”.  Initially people were encouraged to avoid close physical contact with others.  Today we are discovering that many people are choosing to play it safe and avoid social interaction; an action with both benefit and consequence.  

The benefit is obvious; if you avoid social interaction, you significantly improve your chances of not getting the virus; you also compromise your Social Capital (SC).  It is SC that enables us to effectively function.  It provides us with a shared sense of identity, shared understandings, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity.  A disconnect from social life and a retreat to social isolation could have negative effects for virtually every aspect of our lives.  The reality is this, SC is vital for social support and has important implications for health and wellbeing.  It is also critical to job performance, staying up to date, gathering important information, and for getting by in everyday life.  So how can we assure that we continue to amass SC during this pandemic?  

First and most important remember that social disconnection and isolation is not required (unless you have, or suspect you may have been exposed to the virus).  In most areas only physical distancing (of approximately 2 meters or 6 feet) is required.  This means in-person social interaction is still possible, as long as you’re careful to maintain distance, mask and avoid contamination.  Utilize this interaction opportunity wisely.  

Secondly, stay socially connected with your family, friends and your community digitally.  As a society we seem to be lacking ideas about how to use communication technologies to replace in-person interaction to minimize the effects of social isolation.  How about holding interest group gatherings using live video technology?  The local environment group, a book or wine club or group of car enthusiasts can hold social functions online.  My wife participated in a paint and sip event last week with sixteen of her college friends.  I’ve also reconnected via “Zoom” with high school and college friends that I probably would have never seen again, had it not been for COVID.  

Our relationships are one of the most prized possessions we have, but to survive they need to be nurtured.  In the past our most common approach was face to face; that is still possible, but not at all times and in all cases.  However that doesn’t mean we give up.  We find another venue, we seek different avenues, we explore alternative approaches.  “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Our relationships are necessary!

Embrace the Challenge