Now Is the Time To Reassess Our Quality of Life – and Our Work/Life Balance
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Now Is the Time To Reassess Our Quality of Life – and Our Work/Life Balance

Now Is the Time To Reassess Our Quality of Life – and Our Work/Life Balance

Our formerly notoriously fast-paced, frenetic lifestyle and demanding routines have come to an abrupt halt. It’s said that out of every tragedy come renewed strength and fortitude. The good news: the destructive, insidious pandemic aimed at destroying us is actually bringing our society closer together and enabling us to reassess the quality of our lives.

After so much suffering and devastating loss of health, loved ones, jobs, and entire businesses, we are going through a metamorphosis of sorts, gaining a new appreciation and respect for time and, possibly, life itself. People re-examining how they spend their time, reevaluating priorities, purpose, and life plans abound.

This pause is helping us reclaim our sense of life balance and perhaps even some of our souls. As the virus persists and people are homebound, the formerly elusive concept of work/life balance is being unearthed and may actually be attainable. We cherish and celebrate the newfound gift that time affords, specifically as it pertains to enriching relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. Slowing down also helps alleviate the stress that triggers and exacerbates many of life’s illnesses.

Collectively, we are reading more, exercising, meditating, cooking, singing, fashioning new hobbies, creating new businesses, and reshaping daily routines; connecting/reconnecting and reaching out to perfect strangers (online, of course). Air pollution and related health problems, especially respiratory issues, are down. Theft, murder, crime, bullying, road rage, complaints, lawsuits, traffic jams, and gas prices also are down. We are taking better care of our own health and have become more sensitive to the fragility of loved ones’ physical and mental states. And who among us has not relished not sitting in traffic jams and dashing to the next appointment?

Timeless cultural traditions are changing

To Americans living in monochromic time, the emphasis has always been “time is money.” Our North American low-context cultural mindset notably encourages individual achievement. The “I, me, mine” mentality has prevailed. We now appear to be borrowing a page from our high-context cross-cultural neighbors who embrace collective achievement, collaborative mentality, team spirit, family, community, syncopated time, etc.

This vile viral war is a game-changer. Going forward, new protocols governing behavior, hygiene, and social distancing are forthcoming. Moreover, measured words and matching actions when interacting with others is not a nicety, but rather an obligation these days.

Immediate considerations

Handshaking – formerly the universal sign of greeting, saying farewell, making a promise, or sealing a bargain is in abeyance for now.

Bowing – a custom stemming from high-context cultures such as Japan may well become the new worldwide universal standard of greeting. Remember the three levels of bow: the 15%, 35%, and 50% angle: the elder (socially) or more senior (professionally) the other person, the lower the bow. Typically in business, executives meet “level to level.”

Personal space – once a cross-cultural issue, this concept now follows social distancing protocols. Historically, where one arm’s-length of distance has typically been the appropriate comfort zone for those in North America, the British typically prefer two arm’s-lengths of distance for their comfort zone, while those in high-context cultures like China and Japan prefer more like three arm’s-lengths of distance. Interestingly, the six-foot medically recommended social distancing protocol is approximately three arm’s-lengths.

In conclusion

As Americans adjust to a new normal, we are learning new ways to communicate, acknowledge others, and respect new boundaries of personal space. Respectful behavior today is no longer an option, but a requirement. Making conscious choices involving core tenets of caring, consideration, and sensitivity is everyone’s responsibility because our actions critically affect others.

“When a dove flaps its wings in China, the wind currents shift for thousands of miles across mountains and seas.” This is a poetic way of saying that everything we do has a ripple effect, and that we are all interconnected. Here in North America we have felt the ripple effects and have a responsibility to fiercely guard and protect our free society and look out for one another and future generations.

In today’s chilling Covid-viral world, boundaries and promises once taken for granted have been broken. Going forward we realize that we can take nothing for granted. Entering yet another stage imminently filled with challenges, our commitment to helping our country and community function again – economically and health-wise – for ourselves, our families, and future generations has only been reinforced and newly re-energized.

Remember, everything we do and say has a ripple effect. We are all interconnected. We can’t take anyone or anything for granted, especially each other. And now, back to business (better balanced, we hope).

Judith Bowman is a U.S. businesswoman, author, syndicated journalist, and founder of the National Civility Foundation and Protocol Consultants International, which provides corporate training in business etiquette. For more information, call 617-592-2101 or email her.

Published: October 6th, 2020

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