How You Can Use Your Leadership Position to Help Combat Loneliness
Updated: Feb 22
Loneliness is hitting all of us. Hard. It’s one of the scourges of the pandemic.
Adults are doing their best to stay sane. Young kids are bored, tired of screens and zoom classrooms. And college kids aren't fairing much better. Social media platforms are not the answer. They offer the promise of new friends. But they rarely live up to expectations and often lead to disappointment (and more loneliness).
In-person interactions are not happening anytime soon. They’re literally off the table. Students can’t meet new people in the dining hall or at study breaks. Employees can’t expand their circle at the lunchroom or the water cooler.
Everyone is just left to navigate their circumstances. And it’s really a shame. Because so much more could be done to make people feel less lonely.
I created Connector Street, an app that makes it easy to introduce two people to each other. So, I think a lot about -- and see first hand-- how bringing two people together can make real positive change.
Think about the last time you made or received an introduction. Meeting someone new can lift our spirits and make us feel less alone. My app and other more traditional means of connecting two people could help ameliorate the pervasive loneliness that has taken hold of so many of us.
How You Can Help Others Fight Loneliness, No Matter Your Leadership Position
The administration at colleges and universities could start introducing students to each other. Many twenty-somethings are locked in their dorms and apartments, itching to meet new people. Virtual affinity spaces and clubs are helpful - but they're not enough. Moreover, they’re far too easy for less outgoing students to opt out of.
Administrators could generate 2-3 connections for their students every week. The connections could be random. No need to use artificial intelligence to determine compatibility! (Most of the people who have become my closest friends are nothing like me.) This certainly won’t take the place of meeting new friends in a class room or dorm, but it would be a great start.
Same goes for employers. They could connect their employees, perhaps starting with new hires, or younger employees who may be living alone, and then moving on to others. What a great opportunity to foster cross department collaboration and cooperation across different units or geographical areas.
Anyone can act as a go between, from a business leader to a babysitter. My friend’s teenage daughter babysits kids in her neighborhood. She connected two children she babysits for, and now they share a friendship over FaceTime.
Facilitating friendships is nothing new. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher gave every student in the class the name of a child our own age. These children were to become our pen-pals. We were expected to write letters - and I did, for about a year or two. Opening a new letter brightened my day.
There are countless ways to spur new conversations. One bespoke interaction could ease someone’s loneliness. And there’s no age limit on pen-pals.
This is a difficult time. People are remote. Many are lonely. And everyone could use a new friend (or acquaintance, even).
If you are in a leadership position, whether it’s the head of a business or a school or a classroom, consider making a plan to connect your employees, students, and anyone else. We can chip away at loneliness one connection at a time.
I am happy to help. Contact me
Andrea Tinianow is a Delaware attorney and founder of the Connector Street app. Andrea is a frequent speaker and Forbes author on a range of topics related to making connections, innovation, blockchain technology and the law. Watch Andrea’s TedX talk on The Power of Making Connections or connect with her on LinkedIn.