How you doing? Three simple words. We have all asked the question of others our entire professional lives.
I’ve asked it at the start of meetings. At the start of conference calls. At the start of webinars. Sitting across the table from an elected official. Even walking into shul. With the onset of COVID-19, the question uttered so many times takes on new significance.
Each of us is now facing moments of trepidation and isolation while we try to move forward with our lives. What I’m learning is that we need to be present with each other. Now more than ever.
Professionally, we face many pressures. Many of us are working remotely for the first time ever. We have clients with rapidly evolving needs. We are working with colleagues and peers who are distracted, scared and even testing positive for the virus. We are competing with massive noise on social media. All of these provide ample reason to not focus on the moment and the person right in front of us.
And yet, three simple words at the start of every interaction can bring genuine connection if we allow it. How you doin?
Yesterday, I asked and waited silently for the answer. A father described that he hasn’t been able to give his daughter one of those smushy hugs for 11 days since she came home from college. He is literally counting the hours until he can.
My colleague spoke with a client whose child has recovered from a mild case of COVID-19. He shared his journey of emotion from sadness to relief to hope for others.
And I’ve heard from a friend in public health the heroic stories of local health care professionals working under extreme duress. And even some of the awful realities of being a caregiver at this moment.
We are all one or two degrees from someone who is a first responder, a medical professional, or a family member struggling with the immense toll of this disease. The stories of how they are doing fill our social media with a stew of fear, hope, pride, and sadness.
These weeks have been filled with lessons. I’m more mindful than ever that we are all humans. We are all scared. We are all at-risk. And we will get through this together.
The first step for all of us to cope, heal and one day thrive again may just be asking “How you doin?” and really meaning it. I know it is for me.