Category: Self Help

Post-Pandemic Life and the Lost Art of Connecting

For most of us, the last 12 months have been rife with isolation and filled with loneliness. We’ve leaned into technology to stay in touch, but those platforms don’t replace the joy and thrill of dinners with friends, celebrations with extended families or even the occasional water cooler chats with colleagues. Now, with vaccinations underway and the COVID rates dipping, it’s time to start to think what to do as we emerge from our socially distanced abodes. 

Some good news — whether you’re a born connector or someone who struggles to widen your circle, the pandemic has, in a sense, leveled the playing field — forcing all of us to start from scratch when rebuilding the real life experiences, we’ve been lacking. Here are six quick ways to get started:

  • Be Intentional. Spend some time now reflecting and thinking about what it is you want to accomplish when you emerge. Do some old-fashioned naval-gazing and determine what and who matters to you. What values do you want to focus on? What are the special assets you have to offer those you know and those you will meet? Being clear about your goals will help you chart your course for connecting. 
  • Forget FOMO and Create JOMO (the joy of meeting others). As we return to a sense of normalcy, consider becoming a convener (online and/or in real-life). Start small if the idea intimidates you. Invite five friends or colleagues to a small gathering and ask each to invite one additional person. This group approach will put you in contact with friends of friends and increases the chance you’ll cross paths with others who share a mutual interest. 
  • Ask Questions. To truly build connection, learn the art of the ask. Have five or six questions ready that will illicit meaningful responses. For example, instead of standard and stale conversation starters like inquiries about the weather, consider instead, “What are you looking forward to the most once the pandemic is over?” or “What part of social isolation is most challenging to you right now?” These questions invite a more thoughtful response and are far more likely to result in a meaningful conversation. 
  • Learn How to Listen. Most of us fail miserably at listening with several studies suggesting that 75% of the time most of us are distracted, preoccupied and forgetful.  But to be a great connector (again both online and in the real world), listening is the secret weapon. It’s critical to building meaningful and long-lasting ties to others. The next time you’re in that conversation asking good questions, be certain to focus on and retain the answers. Knowing what’s on someone’s mind, what they prefer, what they are excited about are the keys to offering an appropriate and supportive response. 
  • Follow Up. If you truly listen and go so far as take notes (a great way to actually remember), you have all the tools you need to artfully follow up. If your colleague mentioned that they were planning a trip to a city you or someone else in your circle has visited, send them an email with the names of several museums or restaurants you know and loved.  If a friend is looking for a nonprofit to support and you are familiar with one looking for their expertise, make that introduction.  It may feel uncomfortable at first but turn that idle thought into a concrete follow up action. 
  • Rinse and Repeat. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect in connecting and you have a lifetime to finesse your craft. After your colleague returns from their trip, check in and ask how it all went and if they visited the spots you recommended. Reach out to see how they’re doing, what’s going on in their lives personally and professionally. This can be a phone call, a text, a direct message on Twitter of Instagram or even a hand-written note. 

Knowing how to skillfully and artfully build a community is a skill that will serve not just in the wake of a pandemic and prolonged self-isolation, but also whenever you’re faced with a new environment, be it a move to a new city or a switch to a different industry. Approach it with confidence, and your efforts will be richly rewarded time and again. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SUSAN MCPHERSON is a serial connector, seasoned communicator and founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focused on the intersection of brands and social impact. She is the author of The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Relationships (March 23, 2020; McGraw-Hill). Susan has 25+ years of experience in marketing, public relations, and sustainability communications, speaking regularly at industry conferences, and contributing to the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Forbes. She has appeared on NPR, CNN, USA Today, The New Yorker, New York Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. Susan is a Vital Voices global corporate ambassador and has received numerous accolades for her voice on social media platforms from Fortune Magazine, Fast Company and Elle Magazine. She resides in Brooklyn.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The onslaught of technology and social media provides for a tightly woven “community” online, but isolation and loneliness remain high for people of all ages, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.  In her practical and much needed book, The Lost Art of Connecting, seasoned communicator and serial connector Susan McPherson explains how to go back to basics and forge lasting, effective, and meaningful connections—the human way. Her three-step method (Gather, Ask, Do) encourages people to be more intentional and authentic both when looking for new connections and retaining old ones—on Zoom or in real life. 

 

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Six Quotes From Rinzler’s “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar” We Need To Start 2021

When Buddha walks into a bar and sits next to you, you don’t just get booze. You get a life lesson.

 

The Buddha Walks into a Bar...
Image via Amazon

 

When I first picked up, “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation” by Lodro Rinzler, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had always been fascinated by different belief systems and appreciated their differences and similarities. Diversity is beautiful, no matter what form it comes in, giving those who listen a chance to learn and grow. After utilizing my one free purchase on Audible last month for this book, (as well as buying the Kindle version, since I could not find it in print near me), I felt armed and prepared with an open mind to learn more about Buddhism.

 

 

Now, this isn’t just some textbook about Buddhism. On January 10, 2012, Rinzler published this book on how newer generations can apply simple Buddhist practices into their lives to make a positive impact. In turn, practitioners can see how this positively affects the world. After listening to the first chapter, I knew I was in for so much more: a revelation.

 

I was first diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in June 2020. In the past, I always considered myself a strong person: someone who knew how to properly compartmentalize traumatic experiences to just “get over them.” In the past, I would consider myself a spiritual person. While meditation and journaling helped, it wasn’t enough. When I suffered an ectopic pregnancy at the beginning of last year, I not only lost a baby but hope. 

 

 

But after picking up this book, I wasn’t prepared; I wasn’t prepared to find hope and comfort in the words that I read. Rinzler’s philosophies on death, suffering, happiness, kindness, and life resonated with me. With a fresh, new, and wickedly funny perspective, Rinzler lets readers know these spiritual practices can be added to anyone’s routine. Even if that means forms of active meditation, such as when the person meditating just acknowledges what he, she, or they are doing in the present moment. After a year like 2020, we all need a little more happiness and peace of mind.

 

What were the quotes that gave me my revelation and some comfort, you ask? Check out what I would like to call, “The Big Six,” below. 

 

 

1. “You may not have spent years meditating or received instruction from all the best teachers in all the various philosophical schools. That does not mean you can’t open your heart to the world and make a difference. You don’t have to wait until you’re enlightened. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. You just have to offer yourself, as you are, and allow your vulnerable heart to transform the world.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

2. “Many internal storylines are not rooted in our basic sanity or wisdom, but rather in our confusion.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

3. “At the point where you find yourself closing down from communicating openly in a relationship, you have a choice about how you would like to proceed. One way forward is to lay fresh layers of protection around your vulnerable heart. You are dampening the other person’s ability to hurt you, but you are also less able to communicate your own love genuinely. You are essentially preparing yourself for an inevitable breakup. The alternative is loosening up your expectations and reconnecting with that curiosity you were able to offer at the beginning of the relationship. You commit to exploring where you are stuck, where you have put up that protective shielding, and how you can open yourself more to your partner. This is a way to deepen a relationship, by recommitting to applying gentle curiosity toward learning about your lover.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

 

4. “So much of our pain comes from looking at our life in a “me” versus “the world” mentality.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

5. “You let your motivation shine, and other people are attracted to your passion and commitment.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

6. “Patience from a Buddhist perspective is not a “wait and see” attitude, but rather one of “just be there”… Patience can also be based on not expecting anything. Think of patience as an act of being open to whatever comes your way. When you begin to solidify expectations, you get frustrated because they are not met in the way you had hoped… With no set idea of how something is supposed to be, it is hard to get stuck on things not happening in the time frame you desired. Instead, you are just being there, open to the possibilities of your life.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

 

Have you read Lodro Rinzler’s “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation?” Make sure to contact us to let us know what you think!

 

 

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