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Interconnectedness and Social Distancing

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell

Has almost every message you’ve received lately been about COVID 19? I wasn’t going to pile on; however, as the gravity of this global pandemic became clear and the severity of the impact on our daily lives became more dire, I knew it was important to reach out to you and share some perspective from my role as a peacemaker.

We are all interconnected and interdependent, as my friend and colleague Liz London says. It is our interconnectedness that makes social distancing such a challenge for us. Liz quotes Sherri Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot Nation from her book Sacred Instructions where she states:

“My traditional teachings tell me that I am part of one living system and that the actions I take within this system impact the whole….We have to recognize how the entire creation flows together, to understand its interdependence and interrelatedness and then acknowledge our place within it.” As Liz says, “As scary, alienating, and disarming as this moment is, it also reminds us of our individual power and responsibility to look out for the health of the whole. “Decades of evidence demonstrate that human connection protects individuals against anxiety and uncertainty.”

Today’s challenge is to rise above the anxiety and isolation we feel from the social distancing we are commanded to practice. It’s easy to sink into a doomsday mindset. I think we can take advantage of this time to practice peacemaker qualities that make us better friends, partners and leaders.

Fostering Peacemaker Qualities

Optimism: I tell my mediation clients that I’m tenacious about possibilities. When they are hopeless I represent hopefulness. Whether it be for settlement of their case, a better understanding of their differences or a clear path forward, optimism is especially important today.

Empathetic, honest communication. When you treat a co-communicator with compassion and empathy, and pay careful attention to the way you articulate your needs, they are much more likely to feel comfortable enough to try out a different form of communication that is less violent. Typically, our communication is defensive and we don’t clearly express our needs or our feelings.

Deep listening: I’ve written a good deal about listening and its role in mediation, conflict resolution and management and leadership. Listen with an open heart and without an agenda. Listen with a spirit of inquiry. Make a commitment that you will improve your listening. See our checklist.

Service delivery
Our conflict resolution services have always been available via telephone or video conference. While face-to-face is ideal we have provided dozens of telephone mediations over the years. We are adapting our training and facilitation services so they can be delivered via webinar.

Author: Ellen Kandell

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