#6: The Power of Positive Chit Chat
Recently the SERA Workplace studio had an informal town hall-style meeting over Teams. Each member of the studio was asked to think about the following questions and come prepared to share their innermost feelings (or at least speak candidly).
♦ What do you miss about being in the office?
♦ What brings value to you when you’re in the office?
♦ What barriers have you been encountering while working from home?
♦ What would you like to see (or not like to see) in our return to the office?
While the answers and conversations they inspired have been insightful, the full breadth of responses is beyond the scope of this short blog post. So let’s focus on the first one: What do you miss about being in the office?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many studio members responded that they missed the casual conversations and interactions they had with other coworkers on a daily basis. These types of spontaneous engagements build a sense of community and personal satisfaction, provide an important mental break from the demanding work that we do every day, and generally just make us feel like we’re human.
We call these unscheduled moments “casual collisions.” But what do these casual collisions look like now? During this pandemic, many of us have taken advantage of videoconferencing technology to schedule coffee breaks, cocktail hours, trivia games and even full-on celebrations with coworkers and friends. These events allow us to feel connected, but they lack the casual spontaneity that we crave.
Because my coworkers are (physically) unavailable and (perhaps mercifully) unable to listen to my random, always interesting (to me) stories and observations, I’ve taken to chatting up my neighbors, customer service consultants, grocery store clerks, arborists, Amazon delivery persons and other people I happen to come in contact with. While I was certainly never withdrawn, shy or sullen before, I now look at these conversations — however brief — as opportunities to feel engaged, share observations and, importantly, reinforce a sense of shared experience and community.
This is a tumultuous, unpredictable period in our history and it can seem at times that world is overflowing with vitriol and enmity. It’s more important than ever that we foster kindness, cooperation and love. So until we again can pull the ear of our beloved coworkers, take every opportunity you can to practice your casual collisions (from a safe distance of course).
Join us next time when to find out why now is the perfect time to rediscover your personal purpose.