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You want to help. You NEED to help, but how? You can’t walk within 15 feet of anyone. Conversations with co-workers in the halls, hanging out with friends and extended family, even seeing strangers together with you in a restaurant are off limits. For “doers”, “helpers”, “get-it-done” people, these times are very stressful. There is a way to help. One that is meaningful, impactful and doesn’t violate the “rules” of social distancing. Here it is…

Pick up the phone.

Call someone. Connect live. Doing so is powerful for you and for others. “Your people” (family, direct reports, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc.) need it. You need it.

During this stressful and uncertain time, people (including you) need some control, to take action, a sense of normalcy and connection. Connection in person is the most powerful but given the global choices we are making to practice physical distancing and stay at home, how can we meet this need?  

Maybe what is needed most is to simply pick up the phone and reach out. Talk to your colleagues. Pause the texting, social media posting, and emailing and actually have a live, personal conversation. Doing so relieves stress and pressure.

What do you talk about? If they are a direct report, don’t ask about work. There is a time and place for those conversations, but they tend to raise stress, not relieve it. Simply ask, “how are you doing?” or “how are you/your family coping with the COVID situation?” and then listen.

Eva Stubits, PhD is a Houston-based clinical psychologist who specializes in stress management. She shares how important it is to provide talking opportunities for others, especially during stressful times like these.

“[Venting] helps take the feelings out from inside of yourself, it helps you to process them,” she says. “It’s kind of like the pressure cooker analogy: If you don’t open a lid periodically, the steam can build up and cause you to feel even more stressed. If you let it out, it can help you process whatever it is you’re worried about.”[1]

You aren’t a therapist nor do you have to “fix” their challenges. Just express confidence that they (and you) can get through this. Let them know you care. We all need to talk more, especially now. Even the most reticent of people benefit.

Take for example a conversation I had the other day. I am a leader in our church’s youth group. I called one of the 16 year old girls, one who normally doesn’t communicate much. I told her I was simply calling to check in and see how she was doing. She talked for 10 minutes straight and then, at the end, she said with all sincerity, “thanks for calling me.” Even highly, digitally-connected Generation Z kids benefit from real, live, vocal conversations. That personal connection can help everyone from going a little stir-crazy.

So pick up the phone and call someone today. No agenda, no goals. Just connect and listen. You’ll be surprised by the positive benefits for yourself and them. And then, do it again. It’s the one thing people are needing the most from you.


This article has been written by Lisa C Gregory – Chief Product Officer of People Acuity, The Interdependent Leadership Company, and co-author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living.  It has been written in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, DeAnna Murphy and Steve Jeffs.  Lisa has lead teams of 2 people to teams of 242 people,reaching people on five continents. Learn more about how to self-lead during this time (and beyond) with a COVID-19 special virtual program. Learn more HERE.