It may sound cliché, but who doesn’t want to go where “everybody knows your name.”
I’ve regularly visited the same coffee shop for more than 15 years – and I don’t even like coffee. Everyone behind the counter greets me warmly as I order my favorite iced tea. And it’s not just me. They welcome everyone who walks in the door. Who doesn’t want to visit this place?
What’s the draw? I feel seen.
I recently took a personality-type assessment that actually said I would benefit from doing work in a coffee shop because of the typical energy there. I must have known that intuitively. I can attest to the truth of this for me.
So, I spend several hours at this homey place on the occasional day. I’ve struck up many connections with other regulars, especially those who are also self-employed. It’s not surprising this warm, welcoming place has become a dynamic, ad hoc co-working space.
Because working for yourself can be lonely.
That said, work can be lonely when you are surrounded by co-workers too.
You may talk, text, email, i.e., interact, with many people daily, but interaction alone is not a remedy for loneliness. Connection is.
Research shows that lack of connection is a bigger risk to our long-term health than obesity or smoking. It’s not just about our obvious physical health, but also our overall well-being.
Studies show that loneliness at work is a legitimate issue. It can show up as feeling like you can’t be yourself; not knowing if anyone really has your back; not feeling like you belong or matter. (Thank goodness for my coffee shop buddies.) It impacts one’s mental disposition as well as health. Researchers have also correlated loneliness at work to a drop in performance. We shouldn’t be surprised.
Whether you are feeling lonely yourself or observing someone you think might be lonely, there is hope. If it’s about a desire for connection, you can make this happen in a work-appropriate way.
Connection can look like:
- being more straight-forward in our responses, or more thoughtful
- running our ideas by the people our decisions affect
- showing sincere interest in what motivates others and incorporating that into your work together
You may be the first one to take a step. Anyone can lead.
Some may be perplexed with your behavior. Others may be relieved. You may find you have more in your tribe than you realize.
Connection is key.
How much of our true/real/human selves we are willing to share with or give, another? Our authentic thoughts, intentions, and reactions are a gift to others. This often happens only with those in our true inner circle. What if we expand that a little for the sake of connection?
It may all start over a cup of coffee.