One of the best things about the concept of Engagement Equity is that it’s timeless. Building equity in relationships is something that will never go out of style, though the methods may change and evolve. While practicing Engagement Equity can be very challenging even in the best of times, it may seem downright impossible when the world goes spinning out of control. However, when we and those around us are in crisis mode, it’s more important than ever to make deposits in each other’s accounts.
If you’re struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re certainly not alone. You may be tempted to hunker down and bury your head in the sand until it’s all over. Or you might be more triggered than usual and find yourself lashing out at others or looking to place the blame on someone for what’s now happening in the world. It can very difficult to reach out and be kind to others when you feel like everything is falling apart. But NOW is the most important time to do so. Here are a few ways you can apply the Engagement Equity techniques in our current environment.
PRACTICE THE PLATINUM RULE
If there is one thing that is certain at this time, it’s this: no one is trying to make this situation worse, infect others, or drag the situation on as long as possible. Yes, it may seem this way – especially if others don’t think, act, or believe the same things you do. That’s why the Golden Rule just doesn’t work very well in this situation. Many people don’t want to be treated like you do; they want to be treated like they do. How does this look? Here are some examples:
- You don’t mind a handshake or someone standing a little closer than six feet but your friend is uncomfortable being near you (or anyone else).
- You avoid the news and any talk of the crisis, but your co-worker wants to discuss what’s happening in the world because staying informed makes him feel safer.
- You can’t wait for restaurants to open so you can enjoy your favorite meal in a familiar atmosphere while your sister thinks it’s ridiculous that they’re even thinking about opening right now.
Though judging others never really has a time or place, now is an especially bad time for it. We’re all doing the best we can with the tools we’ve got. Respect others for what they think and how they act even if you don’t understand or agree with it.
Do you shut down as soon as you hear anyone express an opinion about the pandemic you don’t like? Do you feel you need to ‘educate’ others on what’s really going on? Do you feel you’ve damaged relationships because of things you’ve posted on social media? These are all signs that you need to stop talking so much and start listening. Really listening. That means not biding your time so you can respond, finding ways to change other people’s minds, or using other people’s words against them.
Everyone is hurting right now in one way or another. Some have lost their jobs. Others have family members who are sick. Still, others may be experiencing anxiety or depression that you know nothing about. The kindest thing you can do to everyone right now is lend an ear when they need to get something off their chest. You don’t need to fix their problems. You don’t need to tell them everything’s going to be fine. You simply need to let them know they’ve been heard.
It’s easier than ever to lose touch with people right now. You aren’t seeing networking colleagues in person every week, your team may be working remotely, you may be on month two of not grabbing a drink with your best friend. It’s vital that you check in with people in your world frequently – especially if it seems like they’ve fallen off the face of the earth. A quick phone call, a Zoom meeting, or just a text asking how they’re doing can be a lifeline for those who are suffering. This is especially important for those who are vulnerable and haven’t had human contact for a long period of time. FaceTime your grandma, call your pregnant sister-in-law, schedule a virtual game night with your friend going through chemotherapy. Follow up, check-in, and show those you care about they’re not alone.
The key to Engagement Equity remains the same during a crisis: take care of yourself first, then take care of those closest to you. You won’t have the emotional capacity to reach out and offer support to others if you’re running on empty. And reaching out and showing love to strangers when you’re not showing it to those you share a home with will have repercussions far into the future. Take the time you need for yourself to take a hot bath, meditate, or do whatever you need to feel your best. Then check in with your partner and children and your immediate team at work. Once you’ve deposited into these accounts, you can move on to customers and clients, friends, extended family members, and healthcare workers you wish to support. The important thing is to expend your energy on yourself and those who are nearest to your heart FIRST. They’ll, in turn, fill your account, giving you more resources to take care of others.
We’re experiencing a situation that confusing, draining, upsetting, and different than anything we’ve seen in our recent history. It’s challenging to know how to act, but it should be comforting to know that we’re all experiencing this challenge to some degree or another. When you practice Engagement Equity, you’re being your best self and acting as an example to all.