Judith Bowman—an American businesswoman, author, syndicated journalist, and founder of the National Civility Foundation, as well as Protocol Consultants International, which provides corporate training in business etiquette—shared a timely message regarding the ongoing pandemic.
In her message, Bowman expresses her thankfulness towards all the professionals and individuals who have been giving their best to fight Covid-19.
In her hopeful statement, Judith Bowman wrote:
We remain ever-grateful to health professionals, first responders, frontline workers, companies and corporations, friends, neighbors, and perfect strangers for their swift and decisive actions, tireless efforts, countless updates, and generous spirit.
And to those who have unconditionally extended themselves, as well as those who have remained confined and duly quarantined to help us get through this “never before” pandemic that has brazenly descended upon us, crippling our world economy, compromising health, lives, and quality of life, we thank you.
Although the American economy has been provisionally incapacitated and countless lives and livelihoods continue to be lost, we are so fortunate that our government has stepped up like never before to offer financial assistance and relief to so many small companies and individuals.
Our formerly notorious fast-paced frenetic life/style and demanding routines have come to an abrupt halt. They say that out of every tragedy comes renewed strength and rectitude. The good news is: the destructive, insidious pandemic aimed at destroying us is actually bringing our society closer together and enabling us to re-assess 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, re-
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 new-found gift that time affords specifically as it pertains to enriching relationships with family, friends and loved ones, once an anomaly. Slowing down also helps alleviate stress which triggers and exacerbates many of life’s illnesses including heart attacks.
We are reading more, exercising, meditating, cooking, singing, fashioning new hobbies, creating new businesses, and re-shaping daily routines; connecting/reconnecting and reaching out to perfect strangers is rampant. Air pollution and related health problems, especially respiratory issues, are down. Theft, murder, crime, bulling, road-rage, complaints, lawsuits, traffic jams, and gas prices are all down. We are taking better care of our own health, and perhaps 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 times, the emphasis has always been “time is money.” Our North American low-context cultural mindset notably encourages individual achievement; the “I,” “me” and “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.
The vile viral war is a game-changer, only reinforcing American exceptionalism. 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.
Handshaking – formerly the universal sign of greeting, saying farewell, promise, or sealing a bargain is in abeyance, for now.
Bowing – a custom stemming from high-context cultures, such as China and Japan, may well become the new world-wide universal standard of greeting. Remember the three levels of the 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.” Note: as opposed to idioms in Japan, great attention to eye-contact is imperative!
Personal space – once a cross-cultural issue now follows social distancing protocols, also in the global spotlight. 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 length of distance, while those in high context cultures, like China and Japan, prefer three arm’s length of distance. Interestingly, the 6-feet medically-recommended social distancing protocol is approximately three arm’s length distance.
As Americans adjust to a ‘new normal,’ we are learning new ways to communicate, acknowledge others, and respect the boundaries of personal space. Respectful behavior today is no longer an option, but rather a requirement. Making conscious choices involving core tenets of caring, consideration, sensitivity, and elan is everyone’s responsibility because our actions critically affect others.
They say, “When a dove flaps its wings in China, the wind currents shift for thousands of miles across mountains and seas,” which is just a poetic way of saying that everything we do has a ripple effect and that we are all interconnected. We, here in North America, have felt the ripple effects and the responsibility to fiercely guard and protect our free society, and look out for each other 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 function again—economically and health-wise—for ourselves, our families, and future generations have only been reinforced, re-energized.
Remember, “everything we do and say has a ripple effect as we are all interconnected.”
We can’t take anyone or anything for granted, especially each other.