Many people enjoy going into work. They enjoy the office or the workplace banter, grabbing a coffee and catching up. That’s something many took for granted. Others though didn’t enjoy it so much and have much preferred working at home. So while the opening up of many workplaces, pubs and restaurants has brought happiness for some, for others the prospect of re-establishing social connections is making them feel very anxious. Someone who is an introvert may well have enjoyed that in 2020 there was no pressure to socialise. They felt more relaxed. Many young people have also said to me that they like working at home as they were away from bullies and were freed from having to negotiate that every day. We are not all the same. Other young people have said they realised how much they missed not only their friends but also their teachers.
As with many daunting prospects, it helps to break things down into individual actions – practical and mental steps that should make the return to socialising more manageable. Here are some tips to easing back.
Avoid thinking too much about what might go wrong
Remember you are not alone in thinking like this. Accept that we are all out of practice socially. Share that with others. You don’t have to be the exciting conversationalist!
Be mindful of body language
We all know the importance of listening to what other people say. For a conversation to go well it’s good to listen well too. Don’t worry about awkward silences either. People will just be pleased to be together.What can you pick up? Body language can tell you a great deal about how others are feeling.
Take your time to acclimatise
Many places of work will understand this and you may be able to negotiate a gradual return. In fact businesses are thinking very much along those lines – that there will be a mixture of being in the workplace and working from. Many businesses are thinking of renting smaller premises. Of course this is not possible in many jobs, but it is worth asking if it is in those jobs where working from home has actually worked well.
Avoid “toxic positivity”
Many people may have been ill themselves or had loved ones who have been ill. Many may have lost family and friends. We have all had very different experiences. So if you have enjoyed lockdown because it enabled you to do more of what you like doing or enabled you to save money because you weren’t going out at all, be mindful that some people haven’t been able to do that. They may have been worrying about money all the time. They may have lost their jobs. They many have had to give up their businesses. They may have had to give up what they like doing. They may of course want to talk about that. This might sound like we are encouraging people to be negative. It’s not that at all. It’s more we are just letting them “vent” if they want to. If they do do that it means they trust you. It can also take the pressure away from you!