We are either in isolation or in our own kind of lockdown. With fewer colleagues at work, if you are still in the ‘office’, and less social interactions, technology is enabling us to constantly talk to each other. Lots of communication happens through writing, and it is now normal to send and deal with an onslaught of messages every day. All of this writing brings us closer together, and stay connected.
I initially wrote this post a few weeks ago as part of my Marketing Series, with the title How Writing Connects People. A lot of the points are still valid, and I have added an additional section of how we can keep in contact, or even reignite contact, with friends, colleagues and family. COVID-19 has majorly impacted businesses and the way we conduct our lives across the globe, and social media has shifted in a big way too.
Connecting with someone else may just sound like a nice bonus on top of getting your point across. However, this is only one aspect of communication to consider. Can your message be misinterpreted? Can you influence your reader? Writing can help shape relationships.
Leave a positive first impression
Are you struggling to find the perfect opener on a dating app? Or maybe you are cold-emailing a sales prospect or you are looking to work your way up the career ladder and are completing job applications. Although these may be difficult messages to send, they are all opportunities to create a positive first impression and lay the foundation of a strong relationship.
Think about the last time a stranger impressed you through their writing. What excited you about the prospect of dating someone with a witty one-liner? What about that initial outreach made the product seem worth learning more about? How did that job candidate grab your attention? The message you received was likely clear and easy to understand, but it was also probably something more. Great writing relies on our ability to relate to other people.
Relating to others can be tricky. We have all at some point sent a message we thought was fine, but it turned into an awkward situation, it was inappropriate, or just not what the other person was hoping for. Although the rejection can make you feel uncomfortable, it was a helpful clue that your message did not resonate.
Conversely, a strong first message can create intrigue, build common ground, and develop a shared sense of understanding; all critical elements of a strong connection. A positive first impression establishes the relationship and sets the tone for whatever comes next.
Develop and maintain lasting relationships
All of us need to maintain our personal and working relationships. Make a point to regularly text a friend going through a rough time just to check-in. Maybe you could document your progress at work to share with your manager? It’s also handy when it comes to the annual review, you will have lots of points to include. Leave your partner little notes on the fridge or in their lunchbox so they know how much you love them. You could even instant message jokes to your coworkers to make your office a bit warmer and friendlier.
Connecting with others means not only building new relationships but also strengthening those you already have. This happens slowly, over time. Relationships don’t maintain themselves, and using your words is a powerful way to show the care you have for those around you. It also goes a long way toward making us—and those in our lives—feel heard and understood.
Close chapters gracefully
Beyond just wanting to be considerate to others, there are many reasons to end relationships tactfully. You can never be certain of when your paths might cross again or how your situation might change. That’s why when you’re finally ready to quit your job, it’s best to avoid a resignation letter laden with expletives. Even a breakup text is always better than ghosting someone. Rejection emails shouldn’t be needlessly cruel.
These moments may not feel like connections, but the words you choose—especially words that carry a particular weight—leave a lasting impression. People remember how you made them feel. Although people are social creatures, no one is a mind reader (yet). So the next time you text, email, or just write to someone, consider how the words you choose are helping you connect with them.
Connecting during social distancing and lockdown
If this medical pandemic has taught us anything, it is how important the connections we have with people is. Here are some of the apps and programs I have been using to keep in touch or reconnect with:
Let’s be fair, we are probably using this on a daily basis anyway. I have been trying to avoid my Facebook feed, as there are too many opinions on what we should be doing, sharing of misinformation or sharing the same information. Yes, there has been some funny videos and antidotes too, but for me, it’s too much.
Find 5 people you have not talked to since school, old work colleagues you have lost contact with or friends you don’t speak to enough, and send them a message.
Zoom is a video conferencing app, which can be used on your phone, tablet or PC. It is best to be hooked up to the WiFi so it doesn’t eat your data. It is completely free to use, up to 40 minutes. If you want to be able to use it for longer, then a paid-for subscription is needed. Instead of conference calls, people have been using it to host their workout sessions, music lessons and I’m even having a Hip Hop Music party with my friends on Friday night.
See what events friends are hosting, by reaching out, and ask if you can join in. Or, create your own event – read them a chapter of your favourite book, discuss a film you have all watched or just have a chin wag.
Facetime or Skype
Another classic app. Can’t go see mum, dad, grandparents – or even just colleagues and friends. Instead of just hearing a voice at the end of the phone, see their face too. As I’m writing this, I’m sat in my garden (got to enjoy the weather whilst it’s here!) and have already taken video calls from my mum, best friend and a colleague.
Created by the popular dating app Bumble, their service BumbleBFF aims to help you make platonic friendships in pretty much exactly the same way. Set up a profile with photos and a blurb, and then browse other users’ profiles. Swipe left if you want to pass, or right if you want to connect.
If you already met the love of your life by swiping right, now you can swipe to discover the perfect running buddy. When you create your profile on Friender, you’ll choose your favourite activities from a list of 130 options and the app will send you suggested matches that have at least one activity in common with you. Alright, you can’t exactly meet up at the moment, but you can certainly build that relationship up until you can see each other face to face.
How are you keeping in touch with everyone at the moment?
I would love to know what apps you are using to connect with friends, family and colleagues. Please let me know in the comments?