Reach out and connect to people who matter.
In times of uncertainty and crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the human voice is one of the most potent comforting tools to connect. So many people text one another a quick check-in thought like "How are you doing?" Yet is there enough emotion in a text? Can we actually feel that person's level of happiness, distress, or anxiety by the words in a text or an email? The answer is no.
It is the same thing with posting on FaceBook to stay in touch. It is okay for a quick stay-in-touch but not the best means to personally stay connected, human to human.
Our ability to communicate is broken into ranges of communication effectiveness. Effectiveness is how well we are received and understood by the people we interact with. Our words only carry 7 percent while our voice and tone yield us 38 percent. The whopping winner to best understand one another is body language, which yields 55 percent effectiveness. So no wonder things get lost in translation, or our sarcasm gets misunderstood when we communicate in writing.
Voicemail helps boost our ability to be more relatable. How many times have you gotten great news in a voicemail and played it over and over, smiling with joy? Voicemails died off in popularity when people left dissertations instead of a quick message. Today's norms are not to hear someone's voice. So imagine... what is the impact of that?
When you call someone that has been on your mind, she is the most important person in your world at that moment. You are giving her your full, undivided attention in a world of constant distractions.
When you smile while she is on the phone, your positive energy flows through the air into her body. Standing up during your phone call gives you a higher level of positive energy to connect. Try it—it will make all the difference, especially if you make each other laugh. Is there anything better than having a moment when you both burst out laughing? Laughter bonds you with a person on another level. It seeds a place where friendship begins.
Action Item: Make a List
Grab a pen (or your device) and list the names of people who are in your circles. Who do you care about? Then add the names of people who have been important to you within the last year, and create another list of those who were memorable over the past decade. Think on it. Perhaps your list includes a mentor, pastor, neighbor, realtor, teacher, treasured friend, a family member who faded away, colleague, former co-worker, or coach. You realize this is a person who possibly needs to hear from you now. There are no coincidences.
Connecting Tip: Think Ahead
I love to have a funny or exciting story to share to make them smile or laugh. Add notes into your phone (under the person's contact name) about key things about your friend or colleague. This helps your memory the next time you talk.
Hearing your voice and knowing you cared enough to make time to pick up the phone will bring joy into your friend's life and refreshingly into yours, too. If you are unable to make phone calls daily, record a 30-second video to text or FB message to the person in your heart.
Connecting Tip: Offer To Help
Ask if your friend needs anything. Ask about what's going on in her world. Then listen. It doesn't have to be a long call, just sincere and thoughtful. Make sure you say, "First off, I'm just checking to make sure you and your family are doing all right." Then ask "So how are you?"
There have been many times the person I called needed a referral for a trusted repair service, a prayer said for a family member, a laugh, or a delivery of a specific item that was hard to find.
If you hear a need, put your mind and contacts list to work to figure out how to be of service. If you need a resource, feel free to reach out to me for an assist.
As we adjust to our new norm of at-home solitude, make your list and try calling three people a day that need to hear from you. I am one of them :)
Leave a heartfelt voicemail if no one picks up. Either way, you'll be reconnected, and if it goes well, ask to set up a Facetime or Zoom date to meet face-to-face, talk more, and feel the energy.
Elizabeth Duncan-Hawker is a business growth strategist whose passion is to help businesses and individuals optimize their strategic advantage. She brings 20 years of experience as the executive director of strategic programs for a multi-million dollar medical company. She specializes in providing a fresh look to identify your company's differentiators and next steps. Under her leadership, she delivers custom strategic solutions to improve customer and patient experience. For more information, visit www.redhawkstrategicsolutions.com.