Part 1 of 2: The New Art of Virtual Conversation – supporting others, and yourself
Just how devastating has the pandemic been to friendships? Research is ongoing, but anecdotally we’ve all seen a distance forming between our more distant social circles, outside of our friends and families.
You might miss them more than you think, those casual friends you used to cross paths with at the gym, coffee shop, and many other spots that no longer play a part in your daily routines because of the health and safety concerns in the COVID-19 era.
With so few opportunities for human exchanges outside of work and family life, all of us including physicians and other healthcare workers who are spending long hours at their offices, clinics and hospitals should prioritize meaningful exchanges with their closest friends to avoid feeling this loss even more acutely.
It’s a critical component to your mental health, which is just as important as physical health given such a challenging and uncertain future for all of us, and even especially for members of the healthcare industry, many of whom are frontline workers and most at risk.
Making time for yourself can be difficult. One option is to find ways to delegate some of your workload. Consider outsourcing your medical transcription to a trusted and reliable medical transcription service. This can be an easy and rewarding delegation that can afford you more time, both personal and professional. And that means more time to focus on your patients, yourself, family relationships and friendships. All of which can help to keep your outlook more positive.
Places like the Canadian Medical Association have online supports, touching on everything from compassion fatigue to moral distress. But honest conversations within important existing friendships can help keep you coping – the key word here being honest.
People are programmed to give basic responses to the usual questions that start conversations. Even though some of us might not really be doing well at the moment, the reflex response for the instinctual opening, “How are you doing?”, is “Fine.”
So instead of asking questions you probably already know the answers to, try starting asking new ones. Think of questions that show a genuine concern and promote a healthy conversation about how your family and friends are really doing.
The same goes for your patients. Ask them what’s on their mind or how they are coping. Try “How are things this year compared to last year?”, or “What new challenges have you had this year?” and see where the conversation goes.
A New York Times article offers some real insight into how to deepen a friendship even with distance (true distance or just the physical variety) through a few simple tactics – even if the relationship has been a bit strained because of potential differences in values, beliefs or actions brought out by the pandemic.
- Reach out and make contact, even if you haven’t talked recently.
- Express gratitude for your friendship – which could help strengthen your bond (as well as the potential for reciprocation).
- Don’t take it personally if someone isn’t available to talk, even at a time when humans barely leave home. We just don’t know what ‘space’ other people are in during these pandemic days.
Diving a bit deeper into conversation itself, suzystories.com offers some ways to be supportive when separated – starting with being an effective listener, asking questions, expressing gratitude and allowing room for sadness and vulnerability. And hopefully a friend or family member will reach out to you too! Perhaps sharing this article with them might be a good place to start some good conversations.
We’ll explore some specific ways to connect in the next part of this series, Game on – Fun Ways to Feel the Old Connection with Friends, but don’t be afraid to take the first step in rekindling or catching up on an old friendship, and really listen to them when you do – even if you find yourself starting off with the standard pleasantries.
2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada. Our medical transcriptionists take pride in the quality of your transcribed documents. WEBscribe is our client interface portal for document management. 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers, and recently introduced AUTOfax. AUTOfax works within WEBscribe to automatically send faxes to referring physicians when a document is signed off by the healthcare professional. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.