The camaraderie of staying in

Sophie Madigan, Project Manager at MerchantCantos looks at how lockdown and ‘staying in’ has helped to create more meaningful, and engaging interactions and relationships and how this translates into business. She highlights the importance of communications and opening up conversations with both an authentic and human approach.

One of my favourite comedians is Micky Flanagan. He’s probably best known for his ‘out out’ joke, describing in hilarious detail and relatability the different levels of popping out, staying out and being exuberantly and unapologetically ‘out out’. To paraphrase Micky Flanagan, for the time being, I think we can safely say this lockdown has rendered us ‘in in’.

But despite being on lockdown, we’re not locked out. In some ways, we’re interacting, participating, engaging in more ways than we ever did before.

I came across this news story about three children in Ipswich sticking a game of noughts and crosses on their window to play with their postman. In normal times, this interaction probably wouldn’t have even happened; they would have been at school during the week, busy on a Saturday. But at home, in lockdown, mindful about social distancing and the toll it can take, grateful for key workers still doing their jobs, these children opened up a dialogue. And with it, a little playful respite and camaraderie.

I’ve noticed this in my project management work too. Not so much that dialogues are opening up, as they were already open in the first place, but that everyday conversations and check ins take on a different meaning. When I start off an email or a call with ‘how are you?’ or a client or supplier asks me ‘how’s your week going?’ this is more than a polite nicety. There’s a Nationwide Voices ad ‘A message to myself in 6 months’ time’ that sums it up quite candidly: ‘How are you? I mean that because we actually mean that at the minute’. Reflecting on it now, the longest conversations I’ve had with clients and suppliers, which have not related specifically to the projects themselves, have happened during this lockdown.

So, this is a piece of advice I’m giving myself to remember in 6 months’ time. No matter how pressing the project agenda feels, no matter how urgent getting a quote might seem, no matter how short a call is, always make the most of those few minutes at the beginning of a call to catch up properly. Because once the call ends, it’s those 5 minutes at the beginning of the call that I’ve found make me feel the nicest. And hopefully, that feeling is shared by the person you are speaking with too.

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