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Social Distancing: Right Intention, Wrong Wording

Getting this ‘new’ language right will be crucial to our physical and mental well-being

I just got off my first Staples Community Zoom call and it far exceeded my expectations – as have all the ‘get-togethers’ I’ve been invited to over the past week or so. Today’s call in particular, though, was refreshing and even motivated me to write this post. My motivation being taking the opportunity to share invaluable insight that was shared with me… paying it forward, I guess.

I’m not even sure what my initial expectations were in each ‘social’ case, but I know I felt trepidation due to the awkwardness I would likely feel in attempting to replace a physical social occasion with a virtual one. Whether it was a Facetime call with our friends a few blocks away, or a professional community Zoom call with several people I didn’t know, there was a consistent initial dread of it being ‘weird’. Awkward even. Should we dress up (by that I mean get of our now-standard ‘loungewear’)? Can I enjoy a beer while on-screen? Where should we sit? Even so, I knew it was something I needed and wanted to try, so I could stay positive knowing I’m doing whatever I can to cope with self-imposed isolation.

And you know what? They were all great experiences, no two the same. No awkwardness whatsoever and in every case I came out of the experience energized, positive, appreciative of the people around me, and just plain optimistic about how we will all come out of this (whenever that is) better humans.

Only on today’s call with my Staples Community peers did I truly reflect on my recent and new social experiences via ‘technology’. We were talking about how we are each coping with the current COVID-19 sitch, as remote workers who utilize local Staples Studios as both a physical and virtual shared work space, now that we were pretty much confined to our respective homes. I must say, the level of introspection and self-awareness I was observing was refreshing. Good or bad (or neither as I prefer) every person on the ‘call’ had something personal to share that benefitted the others.

The nugget I found most fascinating was when Muriel one of the community management team at Staples made reference to what I’ll call a misnomer. this misnomer being paramount to what we are all experiencing right now: Social Distancing. See, we are being asked to SOCIALLY distance ourselves, when in fact what we are being asked is to distance ourselves PHYSICALLY. Wow what tremendous insight. Thank you Muriel!

To take this insight further, my feeling is because we’ve been mandated to distance ourselves socially, we’ve likely unconsciously over-isolated ourselves. Isolation in the true sense of disconnecting ourselves from others, unless chosen, can lead to things we are not prepared for. By that I mean mentally and emotionally, not physically.

So, as much as I accept and appreciate all the measures put in place to get Canada through this – Yay Canada! – I think it’s important to start focusing on preventative self-care in other ways than avoiding COVID-19. Ways that stimulate your ‘self’ – physical, mental, and emotional – in positive ways. My hope for today’s post is mainly to share perspective/insight that I see as brilliant in its simplicity, and so relevant to RIGHT NOW. First step, change the language if the language ain’t workin’.

Physical distancing is in full force, and is absolutely what we need to keep doing.

Social distancing is something we need to seriously question and challenge if we want to stay healthy, in all aspects, and begin to shift our behaviour (again) back to being more like the social creatures we humans are designed to be.

So although you need to stay home, and physically avoid others, get (virtually) out there people, and start socializing again!

Thanks for connecting! Now go wash your hands and don’t touch anything.

#WorkLearnGrow @StaplesCanada

SP Wiseguy

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