It is so easy to think that “We are all in the same boat” when it comes to the challenges of Covid-19, lockdown, working virtually and rebuilding our teams and businesses afterwards.

Damian Barr’s poem reminds us of the range of experiences and emotions that we are all going through right now and how much they differ from person to person.

As colleagues and leaders, it has never been more important to show concern, kindness, and empathy to others.

Two questions we can ask to ensure we understand each team member are:

  1. Do I really understand how it feels to be on your boat? Are you surrounded by substantial crew or might you only have one oar?
  2. How do I best help you navigate through the storm?

We are not in the same boat.

By Damian Barr

I heard that we are in the same boat. 
But it’s not that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine in optimal: a moment of reflection, or reconnection.
Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others, it is facing loneliness.
For some, peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay muy bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office”.
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.
Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks.
Others to escape.
Others criticize the government for the lines.
Some have experienced the near-death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during 2020. Others say the worse is yet to come. So, friends, we are not in the same boat.
We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.
It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.
See beyond the political party, beyond biases, beyond the nose on your face. Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other.
Don’t be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him. We are on different ships looking to survive. 
Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.

If you are interested in ways to build more empathy in your teams then take a look at these workshops:

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash