November 30, 2020
The recent Walker Webcast with Wharton professor Sigal Barsade and Harvard Business Review editor Amy Gallo on “Mental Health During the Holidays” was especially timely given the extenuating circumstances around this year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Along with the customary potential for end-of-year anxiety come the additional elements of a fraught election cycle that has caused fissures along party lines among family members and a global pandemic that among other effects has hindered the social interaction generally associated with the holidays.
Harmonious dinnertime conversations aren’t the only thing at stake, though. “It is those companies that have professionals who know how to communicate, how to deal with conflict and have high emotional intelligence are the ones that succeed in the long term,” observed Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker.
Barsade and Gallo, he said, are “experts in human interaction—emotional intelligence, conflict management and other soft skills that make all the difference in establishing and maintaining corporate culture.” And while many Walker Webcast listeners might tune into a conversation with a high-profile guest such as Barry Sternlicht for invaluable investment advice, “it is actually this discussion that determines where the money will be made.”
Along with the soft skills cited above, another that has come into play during the pandemic has been managing disappointment, whether professional or personal. Coupled with that is anxiety management, said Barsade. “We’ve all been thrown into this situation of anxiety,” she said. “We don’t know the right thing to do.”
That infiltrates what would otherwise be “normal decisions” about everyday matters such as a trip to the supermarket or a doctor’s appointment, which in the current pandemic entail potential health risks. ”Each one is now an explicit cognitive calculus,” Barsade said.
In recent weeks, another element has been introduced to the mix: news that one or more vaccines against COVID-19 can be expected in 2021. The thought that with a vaccine in the offing, “an end is in sight” to the health crisis makes it easier to view the current situation as temporary, said Gallo.
At the same time, though, negative emotions such as disappointment and anger point out “the difference between what we want and what we’re getting, which motivates us to take action” on things within our control, she said. Further, said Gallo, “the problem with the vaccine being on the horizon is that some people think, ‘well, it’s almost here, I can let down my guard.’”
Replays of the Nov. 25 Walker Webcast are available by clicking here and also via Walker & Dunlop’s newly launched Driven By Insight podcast series.