On January 30, 2019, I published a post called, “How Are You Doing.” It was a cynical take on the frequent greeting we use in the United States to address a co-worker, neighbor, delivery person, friend, or anyone else we happen to see out in public. Basically, my view at the time was when we say, “how are you doing,” very rarely does the person asking the question ever really care about how the other is in fact doing.
What a difference a year makes.
Since beginning this quarantine, I have had meaningful exchanges with neighbors who I know casually (while maintaining social distance), deep conversations over zoom with work colleagues I barely know, and many “level 2” catch-ups with friends and family. From these interactions, I gather that people genuinely care about me and my family and that these same individuals also want to share their own personal situations during this difficult time.
Over the span of a couple of weeks, a greeting no one gave much thought to, is now a meaningful question, inspiring others to share deep concern about their family, job, health, sanity, or finances.
Has the pandemic caused people to become more caring and/or concerned for their fellow human? Has the economic shutdown provided us all with more emotional capacity to love? Has having our kids home all day long (sometimes abusing their parents) made us all more compassionate?
If I had to guess, I don’t think anyone has really changed. I operate from the belief that humans are inherently good, loving, and caring when given the education and space to do so. At our core, I believe and in fact know (that’s another blog post entirely) that we all have the capacity to love one another. During this quarantine, I don’t think we have changed in this regard, but rather, our perspective has been altered to recognize that we are all in this together and we have made the time to say, “how are you doing today?”
Looking back at my previous post, I wrote up a fictional interaction between myself and a Starbucks barista. I imagined the barista to be overworked, stressed, and tired, thus providing a sarcastic and relatively angry response to the, “how are you doing” question. On the flip side, I would imagine the customer to be asking the question to be just as equally overworked, stressed, and tired (the reason they were probably getting a highly caffeinated drink to begin with). Looking at this conversation and imagining any similar “pre-COVID” exchange, there was a view of the “other.” As in, “he is different than me,” or “other.”
Covid-19 has given us all a commonality. No matter if we are; male or female, young or old, rich or poor, our lives have been disrupted and, in many instances, devastated. Our individual comfort levels or potential exposure to the virus may be different, but we are all dealing with an incredible change to how we operate in the world.
More than ever before in my life, the view of the “other” has been removed. We are all on the same team fighting against the same invisible opponent. Here’s the thing I hope we can remember from this shared experience. We were always and forever will be, on the same team. The home team. The good guys. The humans.
In my weekly men’s group, our version of “how are you doing” is called “checking in.” Every man begins by stating the feeling words that best describe their emotions. These consist mainly of: joy, fear, anger, sadness, and shame.
Today, April 7th, and at this moment (9:49am), I’m checking in with joy and fear. Joy for the beautiful spring morning, birds chirping, and my kids laughing downstairs. Fear that one day when we return to our social ways, we forget what it was like to be quarantined, taking life a little slower, and spending time to connect with our fellow humans. I fear a return to the old normal, when I wrote cynical stories about customers who didn’t give a sh*t about the well-being of the man or woman who poured their morning coffee.
I care about how you are doing, and I don’t want that to change. If you are feeling isolated and want to chat, I’m available to listen.
If you haven’t been asked recently, “how you are doing,” I’ll ask you.
If you are a friend or past colleague of mine and want to catch up, let’s do it.
If you are a business owner struggling with this shutdown, I’ll do what I can to assist.
Contact me and let’s setup a time to talk. No strings attached. By not doing so, I figure the only thing we have to lose is our humanity.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.