Do you know how to handle a stressful COVID-19 encounter?
Public encounters can be especially challenging right now. A routine trip to the grocery store can go sideways in a matter of moments, which is exactly what happened to me on my last trip to Costco.
I was standing in line, patiently waiting for my turn to check out when I noticed that the woman in front of me was extremely anxious. She jumped every time someone moved towards her. After several dirty glances my way, she yelled for me to move back. I kindly pointed to the sticker on the ground beneath me and noted that I was standing on my designated circle. She walked around my cart to ensure that I was telling the truth (coming within 6 feet of me) before returning to her place in line.
At first, I wanted to laugh at how crazy we all have become as our brains have shut down from the stress of the pandemic. And then I wanted to cry because I cannot imagine the level of fear that she must be experiencing. You will inevitably cross an unknown boundary with others during this season. How will you respond and be remembered during these trying times?
Here are a few ideas on how to make your next outing go more smoothly:
- Go mentally prepared. Everyone is dealing with COVID-19 differently. Emotions are running high and the logical reasoning center in our brain doesn’t work well when we are emotionally charged. Before you go out, make sure that you are calm and able to think and respond—not just react.
- Play by the rules. Know what is expected where you are going: practice social distancing, wear a mask, and use good hygiene.
- Be kind. Remember your manners. Saying hello, please, thank you, excuse me, and you’re welcome can make all the difference when said with a smile. Remember to also smile with your eyes.
- Let it go. Don’t shame others; you do not know their story, will not change their behavior, and will only escalate the situation. You are there to shop not enforce policy. Go about your business, keep your distance, and do your best.
- Respectfully protect yourself. If you are concerned about non-compliant behavior, calmly inform someone who works at the store or remove yourself from the situation. If you find yourself stuck in a situation that you believe is impacting your health, try using inclusive language. For example, “Could we try to put a little bit of space between us while we wait in line?” Do not forget to smile!
How we treat people matters, especially now. This, too, shall pass. When it does, what relationships will be waiting for you on the other side of this pandemic?