Connect during Corona with these 3 Check-in Questions
This 2020 corona crisis (or any crisis for that matter) presents us with growth opportunities. If we let it. We have the wonderful opportunity to connect with God (read more on that HERE), ourselves (read more on that HERE), and others in ways that can help us grow beyond our current capacity. The question is “Will we capitalize on these opportunities for growth?” Just the other day, I stumbled across Oprah’s Instagram page where her wellness theme for the week was CONNECT. In her post, she asked her followers this question:
How can relationships with your significant other, your family, your friends, and most importantly yourself grow in this time of social distancing?
Well, Oprah. I’m so glad you asked! To hear my thoughts on how you can grow in your relationship with God AND yourself during this season, click the hyperlinks in this sentence. But for this blog post, I wanted to share a few thoughts on how we can connect with others in a meaningful way by asking 3 simple questions. Please read on.
Hard-Wired for Connection
One of my favorite quotes on relational connection comes from Dr. Brene Brown. In her book Daring Greatly, she says:
“We are hard wired to connect with others. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
If you’ve been watching the news or social media, I’m sure you’ve heard how social distancing during this pandemic has been leading to an increase in negative mental health outcomes for thousands, if not millions of people around the world. Not only is this virus killing people, so is social distancing and sheltering in place because isolation is a risk factor for suicide. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety, uncertainty, and fear are causing so many people to feel hopeless. And when hope is lost among the most mentally fragile and isolated of us, death by suicide tragically becomes an option.
Connection Can Curb Corona’s Destructive Impact
If you agree with Brene’s thought that without connection there’s suffering, then you would agree that connection can be a cure for suffering. And truth be told, all Brene is doing is echoing what God said in that “It’s not good for man to be alone.” (Gen.2:18) For countless people around the globe, social distancing and social isolating are destroying their overall sense of well-being and purpose in life. So what can we do? How can we combat this crisis? We must get social through connection and care for one another. Mt. 5:7-9 says in the Message Version:
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”
Wow! When we reach out and care for others, we will find ourselves cared for. This is the biblical principle of reaping what we sow. Sowing care into others actually blesses us in return! This is why I believe it’s so important to give to others what we need because God promises to return it right back to us (Luke 6:38). So during this corona crisis, I want to encourage you with some practical tips for being care-full and connection-full. Because when you’re care-FULL and connection-full, God will make sure YOU are cared for. But in order to do this, we must shift from being self-focused to others-focused.
SHIFTING FROM ‘ME’ TO ‘WE’
One of the most wonderful and helpful things I learned about and taught others in my career as a trauma-informed trainer was something called COMMUNITY MEETINGS. A community meeting is used in residential treatment settings to help staff and clients connect with each other on a social and emotional level. According to research, these meetings have proven to be an extremely effective practice for creating a therapeutic environment for social connection. In these meetings, there is a shift in focus from “ME” to “WE”.
Connect by Checking In
“Community Meetings’ offer a safe and nonthreatening environment where people can unapologetically express their feelings (even distressing feelings) in a safe, judgment-free community with others who share the sentiment of “we’re all in this together” (Dr. Sandra Bloom, The Sanctuary Model). Facilitating a community meeting consists of asking others in the community 3 questions. By simply asking these 3 simple questions, you’ll be creating an opportunity for meaningful connection. Here are the questions.
1. How are you feeling?
Let’s start with the “How are you feeling” question. This question helps you to become aware of the emotional experience of others as you simply LISTEN. Social awareness allows us to express empathy and demonstrate our care by providing others with a judgment-free zone to share what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling that way (should they so choose to share their WHY). These connection questions, when used appropriately and repeatedly over time, build emotional safety, trust. Two extremely critical factors for building and nurturing strong emotional bonds and attachment to others.
2. What’s your goal for today?
“What’s your goal for today?” is a future-oriented question designed to direct others to focus on their hopes for the future. When we seek to CONNECT with others by asking this question, we are helping those we love to consider the actions they need to take today to intentionally move their lives forward despite their present reality. Although fear tries to keep us paralyzed in the present moment, faith and hope keep us moving forward because we believe better and brighter days are ahead of us. And who better to remind us of this than a trusted friend.
3. How can I help?
The third connection question, “How can I help?” shows you are committed to your friend or loved one’s well-being and personal goals. This question helps them feel supported and reassured that someone cares enough about them to ask how they can help them move forward in their goals. The big connection message you want to send others with this question is ‘I’ve got your back. You’re not alone in this.” “I want to help you succeed.”
When you ask these 3 simple questions, you demonstrate genuine care. Other practical ways you can show you care is by scheduling a daily or weekly call to check-in. This can be via Facetime, Google hangout, Zoom, or old school calling. You can show you care by making a grocery run, providing child care, or sharing resources. The number of opportunities to show we care are unlimited. We just have to be intentional in our follow-through. Here’s one final thought when it comes to relational wisdom. We can show our care for others when we choose to SERVE every person we meet. And by S.E.R.V.E., I mean the following below.
SERVE Every Person You Meet
- Smile (Home, office, church, store, telephone)
- Explore and Empathize (Show interest and compassion)
- Reconcile (Be a peacemaker)
- Value (Express appreciation and admiration)
- Encourage (Give courage, inspire, put wind under their wings)
During this season of ‘physical‘ (not relational) distancing, I hope you’ll choose to S.E.R.V.E others. And I hope you’ll reach out to CONNECT with your family and friends using these 3 powerful connection questions because when you’re care-full, you will find yourself cared for. Who will you choose to connect with today using these 3 powerful questions?