At a recent networking breakfast at our company’s annual convention, I had the incredible pleasure of listening to a guest speaker, Simone Heng, considered an expert in Human Connection. It was such a great reminder of something we may have taken for granted over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, I feel many of us may also be starting to recognize we are experiencing some of the effects of having distanced ourselves for so long. I know I am and without even realizing it until now.
Simone gifted each of us with her book, Secret Pandemic: The Search for Connection in A Lonely World. As I flew home, I couldn’t read it fast enough. Simone talked in great detail about growing up as an Asian child in a culture that didn’t think it was necessary or appropriate to show emotion. She spoke of remaining inexpressive with her feelings (both good and bad) and also her keen sense of observation while not necessarily participating in the activities around her. At one point, Simone compared her upbringing to the Covid-19 pandemic and spoke openly about feeling isolated, unseen, and at times, forgotten.
When the world stopped shaking hands, hugging our friends and family or even showing our smile to strangers – we all changed a bit. We slowly removed our human connection component from our lives and some of us still haven’t fully recovered.
In reading her book, I was reminded of all the connections I have made in the 20+ years in the business and as I revisited some of my fondest memories, it really hit home to me on how many deep and lovely relationships have been formed from our desire to be more than just someone who unlocks a door and sells someone a house.
When we meet with clients for the first time, we are often lost in conversation about life, family, hobbies, etc. We of course want to see the home, but we really want to know you. Every one of us has a story and when someone asks us to be part of theirs, we want to know we are really connecting with them on a deeper level than simply a transaction. For a while, in-person appointments (if they even took place) were kept brief, everyone’s face was covered and there was most certainly no touching. Removing the most basic ways to connect as humans on a heart level created such a different experience.
We are now entering into the holidays, the season of giving thanks, counting our blessings and spending more time with family. We are finding everyone moving at a slightly slower pace and really taking some time to enjoy some of the more simple things in life. Reading the book inspired me to check in with people who haven’t heard my voice in some time, to stop rushing between appointments, checking my text messages as I walk to the copy machine, and instead take just a few minutes to really connect with some of the people I surround myself with on a daily basis. In the few days I have been home, I have made a more conscious effort to inquire about someone’s family, their wellbeing, how their business is doing and in every single instance, we parted with them saying “thank you.” The more I do it, the more I realize either they aren’t as anti-social as I assumed them to be or I need to quit being so busy that I forget to “touch” people.
I got to the office today and felt a strong urge to give Dyan a hug. For those who know me, that’s kind of a big deal and she looked as surprised as me. It wasn’t a light little pat-pat on the back kind of a hug, but rather the kind that feels like a warm, squishy (me, not her), melt into your safe space kind of hug. It was nice and long overdue. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life, working, parenting, surviving… we forget to water our own roots. Check in on your people; slow down and love a little more. You won’t regret it.