I’m normally a positive, half-glass full type of person which is why I like Time to Think so much – it fits so well with my approach to life and work. So why have I been a real grump these last few days - and mean?
I had a Time to Think thinking partnership session with a colleague this week and whilst I’d thought beforehand about the question that I was going to ask myself, that question popped up instead. Why have I been so mean lately?
Ah, that’s the beauty of Time to Think. When you allow your brain to think with freedom, to have true independent thinking it can take you down routes that take you by surprise. I realised that my thoughts had defaulted to this because it was undermining my own philosophy and the core of the work that I do. It was negatively impacting my ability to do my job with ease and grace.
So where did my thinking take me? For this blog let’s stick with the ones that I can share and which may resonate with you too.
I was fine during the first lockdown even though work was put on hold. It gave me a chance to regenerate, supported it seemed by nature as we had wonderful weather and I could reconnect with the world. I could carry on with my Time to Think sessions with colleagues from the Thinking Environment which helped me work through how to take restructure my client offering. With the early darkening nights though, the rain and the cold, this second lockdown meant that I was withdrawing from the world that had supported me: the walks filled with sunshine and warmth were a distant memory. Nature was hunkering down for the winter. Yes, I can work from home now that the commissions were returning but I too was ‘hunkering down’ and had no physical contact with those who stimulated and energised me. I was becoming disconnected with the world and the people who made up by world.
Zoom was taking over my life - others’ lives too. Many people complained to me that they were going from one meeting to the next. There was no respite in between. If anything they were having more meetings because people found it easier. Bad meeting habits were transferred to online meetings and exacerbated. That these bad habits were now coming into people’s homes meant that they were feeling as though they were being invaded. Their safe, secure bolthole was no longer safe and secure because of technology. They couldn’t escape. They were being digitalised.
I and others were no longer able to have the social interaction required to be able to manage ourselves and our emotions. We were missing the subtle signs upon which we build our behaviours and develop rapport. We couldn’t use our peripheral vision to judge contexts and the feelings of others. The side effect of this disconnection and digitalisation was that it was negatively impacting on our ability to manage human relationships. Our humanity was being sucked out of us.
So this is why I was feeling grumpy and mean.
Once I realised that I had been affected by the three D’s, I was able to then think about how I would counteract their influence. So for Disconnection I pulled out my wet weather gear and made a conscious effort to get out every day; to smile at everyone I met as I walked past them. During December I was wearing my santa hat just to see how many smiles I could generate. I reconnected with my inner child and it lightened my mood.
For Digitalisation I factored in protected time between zoom meetings and made clear at the beginning of each one that I would not overrun. I also made a conscious effort to open any meeting with more emphasis on the personal – how are you feeling today or what needs to be dumped today – and then moved on.
For Dehumanisation I found that my resolutions to counteract Disconnection and Digitalisation brought the human back for me. I felt equilibrium returning and my ability to filter out the bad news, the discontent increased and I began once again to focus on the positivity that is around us.
And that’s what Time to Think and the Thinking Environment has done and is doing for me. It’s helping me cope with what, let’s be honest, has been a rubbish year for many and is allowing me to celebrate those who have managed to find a sunnier path and prospered. I hope you find Time to Think too and your own sunnier route.
Laura Murphy blogs about things that interest her. They might not interest you but read them anyway. It might even change your mind.