Social Distancing

by Kevin Eikenberry, Co-founder

If you are like me, you had never heard the phrase “social distancing” a month ago. Now, it is something we hear almost every hour. And while I understand the purpose of and support the goal of the practice (doing things to reduce the possible spread of the coronavirus is the right thing to do) to me it’s just the wrong choice of words.

It should have been physical distancing.


Because that is what we are trying to do, right? Keep physical distance so we don’t spread the virus. In our day and age, we know that being “social” doesn’t require physical proximity – can you say Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.? And while we can argue about just how “social” our social media really is, there is no debate that we’ve long been able to connect with each other in spite of physical distance.

As more people are being told to shelter-in-place (we just got the order here in Indiana) and are literally at a physical distance, I urge us not to stop being social.

Physical distance? Ok. We need that.

Psychological distance? Please don’t.

Spiritual distance? Definitely not.

Social closeness, not social distance, please. 

We need each other more than ever.

Hunkering down in your home, or avoiding being close to other people may be needed, but isolating ourselves from others including family members, team members, and neighbors is the worst thing we could do right now. Yes, I am encouraging you to be the one to reach out to others – because they need you. Whether it’s your family, your team or your neighbors, be a leader…and remember, leaders go first!

You may be thinking you don’t know what you have to offer. You don’t really need to offer anything, just your thoughts, your concern, your attention, and your ears.

You have a phone. You have email. You have a camera on one or more of your devices. You even have social media.

Use them.

Reach out. Provide the comfort, reassurance, and laughter to others that they (and you) desperately need.

As you begin to practice social closeness while you practice physical distancing, you will help others, but you will gain more than you give.

For more support for your (now) remote team and leaders, we’ve created a COVID-19 page where you’ll find all kinds of resources and helpful content to help you survive and thrive during this difficult time.

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He has spent over 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.

Twice he has been named by as one of the Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference. The American Management Association named him a “Leaders to Watch” and he has been twice named as one of the World's Top 30 Leadership Professionals by Global Gurus. Top Sales World has named him a Top Sales & Marketing Influencer several times, and his blog has been named on many “best of” lists. LeadersHum has named him one of the 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership in 2023.

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