By VINESH NAIDU
Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely. – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
At the time of writing this piece, we have approximately a month of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) to go in Malaysia, but some of the economical and social locks have begun to be loosened.
As corporate Malaysia starts reawakening, humans are going to come face to face more regularly. This means a potential spike in infection clusters around the country, but in the balance between lives and livelihood, I think it’s a necessary step in the right direction. Now we need to rely on the rakyat to do the right thing and practise proper hygiene habits as this virus isn’t going away anywhere anytime soon.
This means you and I have choices to make.
Since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in early March 2020, I have stayed home obediently. No, I didn’t learn how to cook the national dish of Ethiopia. I didn’t learn to bake 101 types of bread without yeast and neither did I develop an insta-worthy 6 pack by running a marathon inside my apartment.
I was busy adjusting to the overnight shift to remote working, supporting where I could in helping the firm continue to be productive over the course of the MCO, which at that point, was for an uncertain duration.
How do I now rethink my role with the changes the pandemic has wrought? A lot of my time is spent on coaching and development and up to this point, a big part of being effective meant picking up non-verbal cues i.e. facial expressions, body language and changes to voice modulations. In a virtual setting, all of that becomes a less reliable part of the process of judging the discussions.
I am going to have to rethink how I perform my role in an effective manner. I need to rethink what new platforms and tools will help me better engage with my clients. And I need to do all of this quickly. The changes aren’t waiting for me to catch up. I will experience stress, and many moments of self-doubts. And it is going to cause me frustrations.
I choose patience.
Since the MCO began, many colleagues have become overnight social media mini-celebrities with their newfound cooking and baking skills, workout routines and the like. Some though, will come back with emotional and mental dilemmas on how best to navigate the new world.
The pandemic and the MCO would have given pause for many people to assess what is most valuable to them. And I’m willing to bet that for many of us, the answer to that reflection would be our family’s and our own health and wellbeing.
Some might have recovered from Covid19, or spent many days worrying about their test results. Some might have lost a loved one and not have been able to attend the final rites. Some might have been stuck away from all their loved ones, connecting only virtually.
What does all this mean?
Despite the prolonged absence of physical meetings, your colleagues might not be so enthusiastic about shaking hands or embracing. We don’t have to sneer at the fear. Some are going to want to work from home for a few more weeks just in case. We don’t have to question their commitment. Some are going to wear gloves and masks when they are out in public. We don’t have to ask them if it is the mid-year fashion range.
We don’t know what our colleagues have gone through, and we don’t know what they are dealing with as the world begins to adjust to the new normal. You will have to decide how you want to respond to your colleague’s potential change in behaviour or disposition.
I choose not to judge.
Slight twist here, as I perform an internal role, so my clients are also my colleagues. For my clients, the focus is probably going to be to win more work despite the current market conditions.
A big concern would be of technology rendering them surplus to requirement; a valid concern. Generally, employment and employability rebound slower after a recession because technology would have advanced in the interim. My clients would be facing the pressure of having to quickly learn new things as their client’s needs and demands would have changed in the short, preceding 3 months.
They might have slept less as they rethink their service offering to an ambiguous and changing local market context. This means anxiety and stress due to the volatility, uncertainty and complexity of the new normal.
My clients might not be able to clearly tell me what areas they will like the most support in. They might not be able to explicitly articulate their needs as they themselves navigate the new normal. And I will have to respond to it in one of many possible ways.
I choose empathy.
So why grapple with these choices?
There is a saying that goes:
It is in the valleys we can enjoy the view of the mountaintop.
As a species, we have, and are, experiencing profound changes to our lives that were unimaginable as we entered 2020.
We now know what the depths of despair feels like due to the helplessness of facing a faceless danger. We know what enforced loneliness means even as we spoke to loved ones over a screen. We know what the pain of millions of people around us losing their source of incomes looks like.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the magnitude of the pandemic’s impact, a once in a generation situation, also means we now know better the power of the human spirit, our own resilience and the ability of humans to come together to deal with troubled times.
Restarting the working world is not going to be a walk in the park (even that is a luxury as I write this!). But we all have a choice as to how we can make it better for each other.
You may be interested in: Understanding The Impact Of Emotions On You And Others At Work
Vinesh Naidu has been working in the talent management space for the past decade. He is passionate about football, travel and catching up with friends; all of which are currently either paused, completely stopped or socially not accepted. Thus the time to ruminate. To connect with him, email us at email@example.com.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com