People talk about relationships requiring a lot of work, but not just those love relationships. Our friendships are just as meaningful, and most of them have been around a lifetime. With the world adjusting to the pandemonium that another word that starts with pan- has introduced, we've seen our relationships put to the test. None of us are immune. I've severed ties with a few people that I've known forever. It was a learning lesson and led me to evaluate how I value and nurture my friendships.
I love my circle of friends, and I miss socializing with them whenever we can find time on calendars. Many of us are at the stages in life where our parents are aging, and we've limited social outings because we're caregivers. The risk isn't worth possibly exposing our senior family members to whatever is out here in these pan-word streets.
So how do you make sure you're nurturing your relationships? Are they reciprocal? Do you find yourself doing all the calling, texting, planning, or are you that friend who waits for plans, contact, etc.? When was the last time you checked-in just because, especially with those friends who tend to go silent sometimes? They may not be "acting funny," they could be going through, as my Granny would say.
So here's what's on my list of ways to keep socializing with my friends in a socially-distanced world.
Pick up the phone. Call or send a text to check in. We're all pulled in a variety of directions, and when there's not enough time to talk, texting is a good way to connect quickly. Nothing beats face-to-face, but reaching out means a lot. Be sure the text leads to a follow-up conversation when you both have time to catch-up without distractions.
Write a letter or send a greeting card. There is something special about putting pen to paper. In college, I wrote letters to family and friends all the time. I even found a few letters that cousins sent while I was away. This art is lost in a world of instant everything, but it shows someone that you cared enough to take the time to write. Plus, it's your words from your heart. Order that stationary and go for it.
Maximize social media apps - GroupMe, Snapchat, Messenger, Duo, FaceTime, you name it. This is how my kiddos communicate with their friends, and it's the next best thing to gather in-person.
Plan an outing if it's safe to do so. A brunch, spa day or walk in the park is a great way to connect with one or a small group. The smaller the number, the easier it may be to catch-up with each other.
Send a lunch or dinner delivery. If delivery isn't in their area, send a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
Check in with questions and actively listen. We sometimes get so comfortable with the pleasantries that we forget to dig a little deeper. Asking someone how they're feeling can go a long way.
Keep it real. Let people know how you're feeling and what you're going through. Leave the peaches and cream spill for associates, but be honest with your friends. It requires vulnerability.
Give them their flowers now. It's easy to pass compliments and kudos around at work or even on social media to people we barely know. Don't forget to hype up your friends. Encourage their goals and let them know what you admire/love about them. We assume our people already know that we think they are dope, but saying it makes a big impact.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect your friends' views and ideology. To mask or not, to travel or not, there are so many things that divide us, but don't let those differences infringe on your friendships. Your personal comfort levels, views and beliefs may not align, and that's okay.
Pray for them. If you believe in the power of prayer, be sure to keep your friends on your prayer list or reach out and ask them if there is anything specific you can pray for. This is especially important as many have lost loved ones and colleagues.
Let's keep the dialogue going. On this week's podcast, I open up about my friendships and how I've recently severed ties with 20+ year relationships. Check it out on YouTube, https://youtu.be/czK0f3X9n7I and let me know if I was wrong.