Have you been practicing ‘social distancing’ because of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but simultaneously wondering how exactly to politely communicate it all to those around you? Whether you find yourself needing to turn down requests from friends who are still sending out invitations for girls’ brunches, kids’ birthday parties (I received 2 for Lily yesterday!) or that client who extends her arm to shake your hand but you’re trying to figure out how to politely introduce yourself, build a connection and conduct business without ever sharing germs, my goal is to arm you with the right tips so you’re that prepared before you ever find yourself in these situations.
A classy woman likes to be prepared, organized and have a plan, she also strives to make those around her feel comfortable at all times. That said, let’s look at 3 specific ways that a modern lady can approach these tricky times with ease and grace.
1. Make it about Them- Instead of expressing personal concerns over how you could potentially contract the virus from someone else, flip it around by showing concern for the recipient by saying “Thank you so much for the invitation, and normally I’d love to join, however I would feel just awful if I unknowingly spread any germs to your family and made them ill”. This way, it takes the focus off you and simultaneously shows genuine care which everyone will appreciate.
2. Use Self-Deprecating Humor-While I won’t typically recommend that a lady degrade herself or speak unkindly of her personality traits or habits, there are times when a little bit of humor can really lighten the mood and still get your message across. Here are some examples when invited somewhere you cannot attend: “You know me, I’ve always been the germophobe in the group, I’ll have to sit this one out”. This can work well if it truly resembles who you are. For that person who is looking for a hug or at the very least, a handshake, you could respond with: “I’m normally such a hugger, but given what’s going around right now, I’m greeting everyone with elbow bumps these days!”
3. Defer to an Expert- Unlike personal opinion, facts can’t be disputed and sometimes this is the easiest and best way (as it relieves you of having to come up with a creative reply or appear opinionated), and yet still provide useful information to someone who may not be quite as educated and informed as you are on the subject. You can cite everything from your favorite business magazine such as TIME, Newsweek or Forbes to medical-based articles, and of course share stats from the CDC website itself. The key here is to do it in a way that gently informs another without making them feel unintelligent about the subject or as if they themselves are the plague you’re looking to steer clear of. If you’ve been invited to a small church event or business meeting of 6 people and don’t feel comfortable, you could site how easily it’s transmitted just sitting next to someone else who is unknowingly carrying the virus with the CDC’s information or make mention of the spike in cases around your area and suggest a conference call or Skype call if your employer or client isn’t up to-the-minute on what’s happening. By staying current and being well read, you’ll be more prepared and in the know, but benefit from letting the graphs and stats speak for themselves.