I must admit, I can’t take credit for the term cov-etiquette. I saw it in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine by Claire Ballentine. It perfectly describes this new world of social interaction that we are in.
People are all over the board as to what they are comfortable with. Some people grumble that they have to wear facemasks, others welcome it and wish everyone would do so. Some people will eat out; others barely leave their home. This is a very individual preference and this is about honoring others (and them honoring us) when we are in their presence. The rules of engagement have changed over night. This may seem overwhelming to you. That is OK; many others feel the same way. I’m guessing this even goes beyond the repertoire of Miss Manners.
The main point being, we want to be able to socialize and still mitigate the virus. We also don’t want to offend others in doing so.
Cov-etiquette rule 1: How to greet people
Many people shake hands when they are meeting someone new, especially in business settings. This social norm has been thrown out the window. Perhaps you can use the elbow bump, give a slight nod of your head, or say, “It’s nice to meet you.” You can also joke around and say that you look forward to the day when shaking hands will be socially acceptable.
If you are a hugger, it may be very difficult to stop what comes naturally for you. You can joke around and pretend to give someone a hug from 6 feet away.
If someone comes towards you to give you a hug, do your best to maintain your social distance. Or again use some humor and let them know that you are keeping a hug tally and will cash in when Covid is no longer a threat.
Cov-etiquette rule 2: Social events
If you are planning one, you may want to spell out if you are social distancing, if they should bring their own masks, chairs for outdoors, or food/drink. Remember, you may have a lower turnout than you had hoped for due to everyone’s comfort level.
Going to social events may feel very uncomfortable for you. You may not be ready to be around anyone else at this point in time. That is OK. Just let the person know that you are not yet socializing. Boundaries are to keep you safe and it’s important that you honor yours-even if someone gives you a hard time about it. If you are unsure, ask the host(ess) if the event will be outdoors, or if people will be wearing masks. You can also ask how many people are invited and if there is a mask protocol.
Cov-etiquette rule 3: Overnight invitation
You may not be at all comfortable with this. If you feel the person has a very small risk of having Covid, you may feel safe. Maybe you aren’t sure. Ask if you would all be wearing masks. Are their other people coming too? Gather as much information as you can, then decide based on your comfort level.
Cov-etiquette rule 4: Family visits
Perhaps someone in your family asks if they could visit you. Remember, it’s OK to say no or joke around and say, the inn isn’t accepting visitors until spring 2021. There may be some hurt feelings here. Perhaps your elderly parents would like to visit, and you have concerns that you could pass something on to them, based on how risky your job is. Let them know that you would feel horrible if you got them sick.
Cov-etiquette rule 5: Offer a different option
Perhaps you are invited to someone’s home and you aren’t comfortable socializing indoors. How about asking for a social distance visit outdoors? Maybe you aren’t comfortable with more than one other person. You could ask that person over for an outdoor social distance visit. If that is too much for you, how about visiting via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or some other video format? This way the person knows you’d like to spend time together, but just in a way you can both feel comfortable.
Obviously we are all in unchartered territory. I’m sure you realize that this isn’t a one-size fits all approach. Your opinions and feelings on the matter may be very different from others. Respect their point of view and ask them to respect yours.
If you are having some challenges or fears with social (distance) or connecting with others in healthy ways, give me a call at 713-304-6554. We can address your concerns and come up with a game plan that works for you.