It's an understatement to say that the coronavirus outbreak has changed life as we knew it. With many schools, businesses, and restaurants closed, life today doesn't look anything like it did two weeks ago.
For all the fear and anxiety the pandemic has introduced, it's also brought something else: an opportunity for us to empathize. The most important thing that will come out of this crisis will be an increased ability for people to feel compassion for others -- and to act upon it.
Whether your business is thriving or barely surviving right now, you probably need some help. In my experience, one of the best ways to help ourselves is to help others. Even if you're cooped up at home, there are a few ways you can support others.
1. Schedule virtual happy hours.
I've been scheduling video drinks with friends who've had really bad days. I send a Calendar invite and ask them to schedule a time for us to hang out on a day that will be rough, whether it's because of layoffs or health worries. I drink Corona while we talk and remind my friends that there are good things in their life, too, not just bad. I focus on the personal, not business, so they truly understand that people care about them beyond their accomplishments or brand.
2. Create a tidal wave of support locally as soon as the storm calms.
People who know me well would tell you I'm super thrifty, but you better believe that as soon as social distancing isn't needed, I'm going to be eating out every night to support local restaurants. I'll be going to my barber regularly. I'll grab some beer from a local brewery. I'll even go to the rooftop bar in town, and I'm scared of heights.
My businesses are online, so I'm not seeing the swift impact that some of my neighbors are. There's an obligation as a community to support those who have been hit hard so we can get through this together. Try and combine doing nice things for your employees while supporting local companies. Last week I ordered Camacho Coffee subscriptions to be sent to our staff at home. It's a small business that needs support during this time and my employees love coffee. Both the employees and the owner really appreciated it.
3. Ask people what their biggest survival need is right now and what you can do.
Often, people ask how they can help you. Most of the time, it's not genuine; it's a way of just being friendly -- it's like asking, "How are you doing?" without waiting for the answer. This is a time to mean it. Now, I'm asking, "Really, what can I do to help?" Even if I'm just serving as a resource, I want to help keep others afloat. Recently, a friend asked me how he could save money on volume purchases, and I mentioned trying group purchasing. I connected him to a friend, Anthony Clervi, who's an expert on the topic. I don't know whether he ended up doing anything with that information, but I at least connected him to a person who was a lot smarter than I am on the topic.
Do you know where something low in stock can still be acquired? Do you have a cousin who does personal finance consulting? Are you friendly with investors who are still looking for strong bets in this economy? These are all assets you can share to help others survive.
4. Ask people how you can help with something they care about.
A friend recently said she was worried about kids not being able to eat because they wouldn't be getting a hot lunch at school. I asked her how I could help with that. She said a non-profit here was taking food donations for these kids, so a group of us helped buy and collect food for her to donate. It meant the world to her and she appreciated that we reacted to her concern. It changes a relationship when you show somebody that you care about something she's worried about.
5. Communicate what people can do to not spread misinformation or disease.
I have good friends who say the media is blowing this pandemic out of proportion. I also have good friends who think we're all going to die. I'm not judging anyone -- I think most people are feeling like there's more that we don't know at this point.
Regardless of where you stand on that spectrum, we can all do our part to prevent the spread. I'm blessed to be a healthy 30-something during this crisis; others are not. People close to me are immunocompromised; I also have friends in their 70s and other friends whose parents are enduring chemotherapy. Even if people think this is overblown, let's do our best to look out for others. The quicker we can get past this, the quicker we -- and our businesses -- can recover.
6. Remember that we're all in this together.
Over the past few years (or, let's be honest, decades), we've been extremely divided because of politics, media challenges and generational differences. Let's use this crisis as an opportunity to not beat up on the other side; let's find some common ground and look out for one another. What makes us alike is much greater than what separates us. We're all wary of the unknown; we all want things to get back to normal. Focusing on that is a much healthier approach for both you and the people around you.
7. Increase your vulnerable sharing.
A friend of mine, Jayson Gainard, sent a message out to people in his community, asking about their mental state on a scale of 1 to 10. Then, he shared the results regarding the people who were struggling (with their approval, I assume). Seeing people show vulnerability can help others feel like they're not alone.
Reach out to someone who might need to hear that he's not alone -- your co-worker, your assistant, the barista who keeps you fueled with caffeine so you can get work done. Share your feelings, too. If you approach this in a way that doesn't burden them, but helps them see your humanity, you'll be doing them a real service.
The coronavirus has introduced a mentally draining situation for all of us. But that means we can't just stand on the sidelines and lick our own wounds. Look at the other people around you, and offer what you can to help. If there's one good thing to come out of this, it will be our ability to care for each other. Many of the things above were inspired by seeing others be kind. Please share this article so that it helps more people look out for one another in this difficult time.