• Helen Gregory

The joy of meeting up

Now that lockdown is easing, I’ve been enjoying getting face-to-face with friends and family again - the simple pleasure of sharing tea and cake in the sunshine has been wonderful. These all-pervasive rules around social contact were important, but hugely constraining on our lives and relationships. Most of us have had to adapt to the new normal of Zoom conversations, but I certainly won’t miss failing wi-fi connections, frozen faces and echoes.

Let’s face it, virtual meetings can sometimes be awkward. We usually connect better if we meet someone in person rather than communicating via a screen or phone. Our conversation flows more naturally, particularly because we can read facial expressions and body language more easily. And how many of us have sent an email and then realised that someone has misunderstood or misinterpreted a request or off-the-cuff remark.

Human beings are social animals. We naturally want to meet and interact with other people – it’s a good way to establish trust and build strong relationships. When we laugh together, smile at one another, shake hands, or share a meal, we bond on a primal level that can’t be replaced by electronic communication. Someone who sees your face on a screen isn’t likely to feel the same connection to you as someone you meet personally a regular basis. Social contact is even said to help to improve memory formation and recall, and protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases.

As well as seeing my friends, I’m really looking forward to doing life story interviews face-to-face again. It’s a privilege to share memories with a client about their life – and meeting in person makes it, well….more personal than a virtual meeting. So let’s all enjoy those chats together in the sunshine - tea and cakes optional!