In your life, do you find that you are typically the invited or the inviter? Are you the called or the caller? While everybody is a little of both, it seems that people tend to lean more one way or the other. Interestingly, over the past few weeks, this topic has presented itself on a number of occasions and I want to encourage each of us to level the playing field. Allow me to explain by way of a few examples:
Amelia. Amelia and her husband, Jack, moved to a new city about seven years ago for a career opportunity. They have gotten active in the community, have developed a good reputation for themselves and are well-liked by others. Amelia herself is a brilliant, intellectual person who enjoys getting out and about, but prefers more intimate, one-on-one interactions with a few close friends vs. large gatherings or get-togethers with a lot of people. During a recent catch-up call, she confided to me that she is enjoying her new town, but that it is sometimes difficult to really get to know others since she is “an outsider.” She finds she has to reach out to friends in order to schedule virtual and/or in-person coffees, lunches, drinks, et al. She went on to say, “It sure would be nice to get a call from someone with an invitation to get together now and then rather than having to do all the scheduling myself.”
Andy. Andy is a retired military officer who took on a civilian career about a decade ago. No surprise, he is confident, optimistic, upbeat and a great leader. People are naturally drawn to him. Recently, the company he was running was sold to another organization; Andy and the rest of the original management team was released. He did what every job seeker ought to be doing – he ramped up his networking, got creative about what he was interested in pursuing, etc. But, truth told, it wasn’t what he had had in mind for his professional progression and he was feeling down. It’s all worked out now: He just accepted a new opportunity with a company he is really excited about. When we were talking about the new gig and process for getting there, he told me this, “The thing that got me through the difficult days was not the prospect of a new position; it was the three or four friends who reached out during that time with calls, text messages and emails ‘just to check in.’ It made me feel well-cared for and not alone.”
Sasha. Sasha is an ad exec who lives in a high-rise in the city. Though she keeps very busy professionally, in the midst of the global pandemic, working from home has given her an overwhelming feeling of isolation and she is eager for some social interaction. She has started to organize weekly socially distanced happy hours with one or two friends. One week, it’s at her place in the outdoor courtyard of her building. The next week, it’s at a friend’s place on the balcony. Whoever hosts, provides the glasses and a bottle of wine. During one recent visit, she said to her friend, I’m so glad this has been working out – thanks for making the time. Her friend responded, “I love it and, you know, you do put a priority on calling. I appreciate that.” It made Sasha feel great and she doubled down on her commitment to getting together.
What’s the message in all of this? Reach out. Encourage others to reach out. By proactively touching base with others, including them in your plans, telling them you hope they will think of you, too, you are setting off a virtuous cycle of connection, and that makes everyone feel great.