Check-in – connection and belonging

I am noticing a lot of conversations around maintaining staff wellbeing, and supporting our teams and colleagues through these difficult times. Regardless of our location and the varied degree of “freedom”, all of us have been impacted by the pandemic.

Here’s something we can do, individually, to support our colleagues and friends.

Create a support circle.

It is informal and casual. It is establishing social connection – via chat, phone call or video call, or social media interaction.

I know the people in my circle will contact me if they need/want to. And I do the same with them – a difficult moment requires some “debrief” and a happy occasion is for sharing. That’s healthy.

Set your intention

Start by setting an intention. The support circle does not require us to be counsellors. Create a circle which you and others can belong and connect.

Shared experiences (say, of our workplace, of a particular professional group, or team) engender experiential and intellectual intimacies, and allow for conversations. The circle will be a vault where confidences are maintained. Bring our authentic self into the circle – show yourself and be prepared for candid conversations.

The “logistics”

Be specific and realistic about what we can do. This is after all about wellbeing, and self-care is a priority.

How much time will we dedicate to this, and how many per week? Individual or group interaction?

There is no fixed rule. This is a circle and the “arrangement” is loose. My check-ins are usually 1-to-1. It takes 10-15 mins and I find that’s enough for us. A matter for you how often you can engage with this. If you can manage one interaction a week, that’s good enough. At least one person will have received the generosity and kindness of your time and attention.

Who can I possibly contact? How big should the circle be?

Though not exhaustive, these questions can remind you of someone whom you can include in your support circle.

  • Who lives alone?
  • Who misses their family living interstate or overseas?
  • Who has caring obligations exacerbated by social restrictions?
  • Who is extroverted or sociable yet compelled to live under social restrictions?
  • Who haven’t you heard from in a while?
  • Who may be feeling additional stress directly because of the pandemic for eg. tech support staff who are working hard to enable our remote working life?

There is no “should” in this. We willingly come into the support circle. And if it is a circle of 2 persons, then so be it. Both of you will be better off with the experience.

No, thank you

Be sensitive to the possibility that our attention is not always welcomed or needed. Or someone may be receiving too much contact.

If you are being approached by too many people, then convey a grateful “no, thank you” to some of them. Setting personal boundaries is a resilience skill. Something along the lines of “thank you for checking in, I already have a support circle. Someone else will benefit from your check-in. Perhaps you may wish to check in on others who need support.”

If you are sensing a need for support within your community, and wondering what to do, I hope this is food for thought…and action.

You have the power to make a positive 😊 difference to someone’s day.

As we give, so we receive.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2021

How to connect

 

Building relationship is a “thing” now, a mantra within the networking, management and leadership circles. And rightly so. Seeking to build relationships honors our humanity, we are more than conduits engaging in mere exchange of insights and information, time and money and the cost-benefit analysis of these currencies.

We cannot build relationships unless we learn how to connect.

And the essence of real connection which we find so appealing, supportive, enriching and rewarding is intimacy. Intimacy is the glue that binds people. Without it, any connection is barren, void of the positive meaning.

But what is intimacy? It is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship with another and it arrives in different ways. We may have cognitive or intellectual intimacy with another with the sharing of ideas, visions, viewpoints, dreams and hopes. We may have experiential intimacy as we do work, however defined, together. We may also have emotional intimacy where feelings are shared between two or more people and our emotional needs are met or affirmed. And we have sexual intimacy which involves the sharing of sensual expression. This would include for example, the person whom we share our epicurean or creative interests.

There are many ways through which we develop intimacy in our professional life and connect.

And which comes first? Do we connect to enable intimacy to grow? Or is intimacy a prerequisite to connection? Instead of a linear cause-and-effect correlation, the relationship between intimacy and connection is reflexive.

Intimacy and connection are deliberate and conscious processes.

We must be willing to explore, to be interested in another’s life, to be present and available to them. Most importantly, we must be real. And we have to give it time to develop.

Hold new interactions lightly, watch it and see where it will grow. Let go of preconceived notions of how, what and why. Not every interaction becomes positive connection.

So how do we connect?

Be open and sociable. This does not mean be naive and gullible. It does however mean you do not approach every person you meet as a threat. Keep your head, open your heart.

Be authentic. Show who you really are. Stop being so guarded. It may feel vulnerable but my experience has been that most people are happy to receive the real you. Few people are out to harm.

Maintain your values. People with whom you connect will be those who share a certain ‘thing’ with you; this ‘thing’ which calls to you are underpinned by your values. Be yourself. Be honest.

In this endeavour of building relationships especially as a leader, let us be gentle, kind and respectful.

Which of us would refuse a genuine connection? On this premise, building relationship need not feel like an unsurpassable challenge.

~ FlorenceT

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2018

You’re not normal, and it’s okay

Yale researchers have confirmed our feeling different is normal, in that there is no normal. Our experience is by reference to our environment and “normality” is circumstantial.

“Change is the only constant.” Don’t we know this already? Our struggle lays in our denial and persisting attempts to maintain a status quo.

Check out this article in Curiosity.

 

What it means to have a true conversation

Conversation… what’s it about?

I encounter many ‘conversations’, and in many different contexts.

There are the conversations I promised another but only when time permits, or the conversations I have to have with another which distilled much and created space for more imaginings. There are conversations which signaled change and endings and beginnings. These conversations are imbued with so much meaning, even as we schedule them as a matter of course as part of our daily life at work or in our personal life.

I hope these conversations have been true.

No matter the context, true conversations have a common thread. True conversations are arrived at with a willingness to listen, an openness to receive and embrace, and a genuine response and where required a loving rebuke.

True conversations happen with humility and love, supportive and encouraging growth.

We hold conversations through engaging with each other authentically. Maybe that’s why we don’t just have conversations but we hold conversations – the conversation as a space, a safe space held which allows each conversation-holder to be vulnerable and to express who we are to each other. Otherwise the interaction becomes inter-reaction.

Idealistic? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it ought not detract us from trying our utmost to being such a holder of conversation. After all, we have heard of the benefits of authentic listening. And “asking the beautiful question” that says “I have heard”, a beautiful question which touches another deeply, a beautiful question which invites a genuine answer.

How beautiful and uplifting our relationships can be when we hold true conversations.

A conversation is not the same as a friendly chat, a quick ‘how-are-you’ nor lengthy IMs. Nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about these – each serves a purpose at different moments.

It may not be possible to have true conversations all the time. It requires mindful intention and preparedness. True conversations are always filled with meaning, meaning-full.

When did you last have a true conversation? And with whom?

Live meaningfully, I say.

~ FlorenceT

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2018

Empathy is not necessarily helpful

 

“Empathy is a distributed brain process” says the research team from the University of Colorado Boulder.

What does this mean? Empathy as an experience is not located in a specific region of the brain, rather it “utilises” the whole brain.

The researchers differentiate between empathic care – where empathy generates care and assistance and occurring in the part of our brain associated with value and reward; and empathic distress – where it triggers avoidance, fear and anger, and occurring in that part of our brain dealing with mirroring.

While there is little difference person to person as to the patterns for empathic care and empathic distress, what promotes the care element?

Check this out on Medical News Today.