We have more silence now than ever before in our lives. What story can it tell us? What can we learn from it? When you’re alone and can’t find a use for your physical voice it could be very easy to slip into depression or isolation. What do you do when you’ve gotten into your own head and fallen prey to the silence? Have you gone hours with out even hearing your own physical voice used? Let’s talk about how you can break that streak at work and in isolation.
We have a lot to learn from remote work or life at home as we’re required to shelter for these longer amounts of time. Most of us thrive from the energy of others. We never realized how much we depended on these social interactions with our work circles until we didn’t have them any more. The presence and moments of being able to check in with peers or colleagues whenever we wanted to now absent, may be hard to get used to.
Through out days we talk a lot more than we realized. Sudden shifts in not talking at all can take its toll on us. We have hours potentially we don’t talk physically at all. One way I try to overcome these moments of complete silence is to break it up with my favorite Greatest Showman Reimagined album and sing a track at the top of my lungs just to hear myself. These are great for breaks in between focused work or intense projects we could be doing now remotely. Anything can do as long as your using your physical voice to do it.
Create a channel for water cooler moments online for others using virtual spaces digitally. There’s Zoom, Slack, WebEx, and others that allow us to create virtual rooms where we can see and physically hear from others. A place to share. Create a water cooler room once a day for people to take a break and join you on a set day every week. Break into some socializing in a different way then on social media which can get you completely off track from being productive and at times suck you into a black hole of negativity.
I’ve taken the opportunity for my teams to create a Coffee Chat for 30 minutes one day a week on different topics. I select non-work related topics like favorite podcasts, movies, books, or even family relatives to discuss openly. Using WebEx while others are in the room I take them on a virtual tour of the topic they’re talking or sharing about so everyone can see it visually too. Not only is it good socially and you get to hear your own voice, you start to understand more what makes people who they by what they share. By how they use their own physical voice as you listen you start to really see a person’s different perspectives. It’s a great exercise in practicing inclusion and diversity.
I schedule connections in my remote work with my peers and my leadership team to use my physical voice more. Most times its not even to guide or develop, but just to keep a social connection with them, hear about their day, and be able to share thoughts between each other. Just like we would if we were in the store together. Sometimes people don’t realize they need someone else until they do and that person isn’t accessible as they used to be. I focus on making myself accessible virtually probably more than I do when we’re physically together.
Even in the hard times right now, use your voice. It’s important to hear yourself speak whether it’s just you or with others virtually. Don’t let your voice be silent. Habits can catch us by surprise. If we don’t use our physical voice enough, we’ll start to build a habit of not using it. Then when we return to our normal, whatever that normal will be, we may find the silence continuing into out work/life still. Even when things have returned to somewhat normal.
Make sure you can hear your own voice, more than in your own head, but really hear it out loud. You will find like I did, some energy and promise in it. No one should be silent. Everyone deserves to be heard.
The next few posts I will be bringing to this month’s podcast and writing is this idea of kinship. The very practice of which requires reaching out to other humans or someone other than ourselves to connect with and find common interests.
“Kinship is one of the most important organizing components of society. … This social institution ties individuals and groups together and establishes a relationship among them.”Sociology Group
More to come on kinship. Cannot wait. Thanks for reading and I hope you and your families/friends are safe as well as healthy!