If you haven’t met me – I am an extravert. What I mean by that is I get energised by being around people, which is why I love what I do for a job.
I had thought as I was getting older that perhaps I was becoming more introverted. Enjoying time on my own and recharging through quieter activities… but isolation has proven this theory wrong.
I miss the physical company of the people I work with. The collaboration that comes with solving problems together. The energy that is inspired by hearing other people’s stories and more.
The reality is Zoom, Teams and Hangouts just doesn’t cut it. Visual and audible interaction only, misses something that humans are meant to have when they meet. I’m still researching this and probably a blog post to come. The obvious comes with the lack of other senses interacting like touch through a hand shake. Could it be that the hand shake is gone forever? There is so much you learn about someone from the humble handshake. Perhaps our children’s children will never know the tradition of shaking hands and when we talk of the days when we used to shake hands they will shudder in disbelief that we would allow our body to be touched by another possibly virus infected hand?
It may even prove the theory of mirror neurons, that by being in the presence of someone else and copying their behaviour, we form our basis of empathy. However we then respond, there is a science based interaction that we just don’t get on video calls.
Anyway, I digress. The result of all of this – working from home, isolation, extravert-being-alone nightmares, video calls and no hand shakes – I have found myself in the uncomfortable position of dealing with emotions I am not used to.
I like to think my standard disposition is reasonably steady - handling the challenges that come my way with smart planning, patience and a healthy dose of realism. But in isolation I have found a regular pattern of anger and frustration.
For the first few weeks it caught me by surprise, then it became a normal pattern and that’s when I decided to do something about it – and this brings us to the point of this post.
As business leaders, how do we develop emotional intelligence during isolation?
I wasn’t prepared for this to become the new me, so I needed to learn, understand and then make quick changes so that my pattern of life was by intentional design and not by reactive circumstance.
If you are finding you are just not yourself at the moment – here are a couple of things I learnt that might help.
1. Try to name the emotion.
We were created with emotions. You need to speak them out, learn about them, talk to others who experience them. Mostly there are healthy and unhealthy responses to an emotion.
2. Do less and do more
During this time, work out where you need to stop and reset your pace of life. Rest. Be okay with being less productive. Work out who the people are that are most important in your life and create space to show them that.
But… if you need to, do more.
Is it a time to get to the things you don’t normally get to? I’ve been wanting to finish a book and video series for a few years and managed to get them done.
3. Focus on the things you can control
You can do relationships well, you can care for your family, you can love others. You can’t fix Covid, you can’t change how the government will respond etc.
4. Be highly empathetic towards others
You don’t know what people are going through. How might their circumstances like home life, or losing a job be changing their behaviour. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt and look at where we can help.
Hopefully this is a season that doesn't last too long - but why not take the chance to learn more about yourself and as you do make a small change that makes you a better version of yourself.