One engaging topic of conversation today is which of these new customs will become permanent as we navigate the uncharted waters of social distancing, in response to the local impact of global health concerns. A respected business guru was celebrating what he predicted would be the end of the handshake, as early as a month or two ago. We didn’t realize the custom was that burdensome, and most of us doubt such a longstanding social practice could be extinguished so suddenly.

Meetings Planned and Unplanned

Still, it makes you think. The value of human contact is up for examination now, as never before in memory. While some of us are sequestered with the people we hold most dear, for the duration of this stay-at-home lifestyle, many others are not so fortunate. Parents and grandparents may live at some distance and beyond the reach of travel temporarily. Friends whose sense of humor was a key stress-reducer – or whose casual drop-in was just what some days needed most – seem to be “not all there” when we only can reach them by phone.

Trainers in all kinds of professional skills have long said that 80% of communication is non-verbal. How much are we missing when the physical presence of each other is lopped off, and especially when we can’t be sure how long this will last? The present circumstances give us an unprecedented opportunity for taking a clear look at this.

Of This We Can Be Certain

The answers to which of these changes will stay, and which will fade from view, are likely to surprise us to some extent. Businesses will, no doubt, delve further into technology for team collaboration, cutting back on meetings and conferences, and it will take time for that to find its ongoing level. Who wouldn’t prefer to work with fewer meetings after all? Experience suggests we’ll try to over-rely on conference calls and video meetings for a while.

Having seen waves of this in the workplace before, the value of the hallway conversation, the unexpected encounter, to make the difference in a business breakthrough will not be given up entirely, once it is remembered in practice.

In our personal lives, the pendulum is likely to be even more predictable.

What will our celebrations be like when social distancing can at last be wound down? We’re thinking they’ll shape up less like New Year’s Eve and more like the reunions of veterans. People who shared so much that only they could understand. Here’s where we will feel more fully than ever how unique our friendships are – how grateful we are for all kinds of relationships in fact.

The perspective that this time of social distancing is giving us could be a catalyst for even more grace, even more gratitude, in our lives to come.

Let’s Begin Right Here

At The Shops at Sea Pines Center, we’ve long observed how the plaza that connects us is a gathering place for neighbors and residents, full-time and seasonal. Many Sea Pines residents consider a stroll through the plaza a kind of living bulletin board for taking the pulse of the resort we call home. Visitors of all kinds, too, seem to gravitate here as a touchstone for discovering what they want to do with their hard-earned time in Paradise.

How fortunate we are to be seen that way. To be the setting for connecting and reconnecting, whether the visit is once a week or once a year. This quiet time gives us the chance to see it more clearly than ever. How grateful we are to be at The Center.