Each of us is coping with our reactions to the Coronavirus Crisis in different ways. Our opinions and reactions are based on our own circumstances — how our health and businesses are faring, how much money we have in the bank, where we are sheltering-in-place and whom we are sheltering with, how our loved ones are faring, and so much more. Because while we are all be affected by the same Coronavirus Crisis, we are not being affected in the same ways. A couple of paragraphs from an essay by an unknown author explains this more eloquently than I can:
“I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis and mental health crisis. Some are safe in their homes while others must go into the front line and face this virus head on.”
Even in the same family we each experience the storm in different ways. For example, I’m working from home. I’m finishing my new book, shooting videos, talking to clients, and creating blog posts like this one. My wife, on the other hand, puts on her scrubs every morning and heads to the medical office to see patients. She comes home to the same shelter I’ve been in, but she spent her days doing very different things and dealing with very different problems.
Even though we share our lives together, Gloria and I are in the same storm but not the same boat.
It’s the same for you, your family, and your friends. You and each of them are experiencing this crisis in very different ways.
And, it’s the same for your clients and customers. Each of them is dealing with their situation in their own way, with their own problems and concerns and their own solutions.
Continuing your profitable relationships with them, and positioning you or your company for further business with them, therefore, requires that you understand what they are going through. Not what you think they’re going through, nor what you would do if you were them, but actually what they are feeling, thinking, and doing.
What’s the easiest way to find this out?
It’s simple. Just ask them.
Drop them a note, send them a text or an email, or give them a call. Ask them how they are. Ask them what they’re going through. Ask them how they’re feeling. Ask them how they’re coping. And then do two more things:
Shut up and listen to what they say. Really listen.
Don’t editorialize, don’t correct, don’t try to help, don’t try to demonstrate how smart you are. Just listen. If you do this sincerely and properly, most people will tell you exactly what they need. More important, they’ll tell you what they want.
Your work, then, becomes figuring out how to use what you know and what you can do to help them become who they want to be. Thanks to the Coronavirus Crisis, that’s now your job. That’s the work you have to do.
Once again, someone has said it much more eloquently than I could. A stanza in country singer Jason Isbell’s song Something More Than Free goes like this:
“I don’t think on why I’m here or where it hurts,
I’m just lucky to have the work.
Sunday morning I’m too tired to go to church.
But I thank God for the work, I thank God for the work.”