Ep 50: Loneliness – A Leadership Epidemic

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In this episode, Bridgette and Irvine explore how the rise of loneliness is reaching alarming proportions and what we can do to combat it.  


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Don’t forget to check out Irvine’s You Tube channel with new videos every Wednesday on emotional intelligence, resilience, and leadership.

Check out Irvine’s new book Leadership Lessons From The Pub.

Check out Bridgette’s book which she co-authored with Bod Duggan  Resilient Leadership 2.0.

And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources some of which are mentioned in each episode. 

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Irvine Nugent [00:00:03]:

 

Well, welcome everyone to the 50th edition of Resilient Leadership Podcast where everything we talk I know. Woo hoo. Let’s stop. Woo hoo. Where everything we talk about is aimed at helping you lead with a greater sense of calm, clarity and conviction even in anxious times. And my name is Irvine. And today, as always, I’ve been joined by my cohost and collaborator over these 50 episodes, Bridgette. Bridgette, how are you doing today?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:00:34]:

 

I’m doing good, Irvine, and thank you for calling out that it’s our 50th. That’s kind of neat. You know? It doesn’t it doesn’t feel like it. Now Seems like we just got started.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:00:44]:

 

Absolutely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:00:45]:

 

But apparently not.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:00:46]:

 

There you go.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:00:47]:

 

It’s exciting to think that we have covered this much ground And, you know, today’s topic is not one that we have ever talked about before.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:00:57]:

 

Absolutely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:00:58]:

 

Over the course of a year and a half, we Certainly have revisited certain topics and taken deeper dives on them, but I do believe that this particular subject is Really our 1st time exploring it. So, Irvine, you know, what exactly is on tap for today?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:01:15]:

 

Yeah. So today’s Episode is called Loneliness, A Leadership Epidemic. Now that might sound just A little dramatic. However, I gotta tell you, as we both have been digging into this topic, the research is absolutely Alarming, eye opening, and there have been many, many different studies produced in the last year. This is a a topic that’s Getting momentum in both the research world and in leadership and in business and society in general. And there’s many different surveys out there, but, you know, if you kinda bring them together and they have different percentages. But I think we’re safe to say that about 25% of the workplace is dealing with loneliness at work on a regular basis. Just imagine that a quarter of people at work are dealing with loneliness.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:02:09]:

 

And what the research has also pointed out that this figure is higher for people in different minority groups, and senior managers and leaders also show higher figures. So today, we’re going to look at what might be behind these figures. What’s the actual impact? Why is this important? Everyone experiences loneliness, you might say, but what is the impact of loneliness? And And finally, you know, what can we do about it? Bridgette, I’m curious. As you work with many different clients and different spheres of work, is this showing up as a topic?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:02:43]:

 

You know, it is. It’s interesting that you mentioned senior leaders having a higher rate of loneliness. I do remember, Specifically, during the pandemic when we hadn’t really gone back to the workplace either hybrid or otherwise. Right? And I remember the loneliest people that I coached were the CEOs and the business owners, right, who Really wanted to be back in the office and actually never left.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:09]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:03:10]:

 

And then he would go to that office and there’d be nobody around. And, you know, that’s lonely

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:15]:

 

to

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:03:15]:

 

walk the halls and not be surrounded by your work community.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:20]:

 

Yep.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:03:20]:

 

So I stopped there, and then As we’ve returned to the workplace, hybrid typically, you know, I still think there’s some of it because we haven’t worked all the kinks out of the hybrid arrangement.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:31]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:03:32]:

 

So you’re still getting people coming in but not connecting. You know, not really reestablishing those bonds.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:38]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:03:39]:

 

So that that’s what I’m noticing. How about you?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:03:41]:

 

Yeah. You know, I I think I’ve got a little theory in that, and I don’t know if if it comes up for you as well, in that people don’t Often label what they’re going through loneliness, but when you explore it a little bit more, it actually is. Like, people may say to, you know, oh, well, I think I’ve just made a bad career choice, Or, you know, there’s just something about this company. I this the culture doesn’t suit me. And, you know, when you probe a little, more what’s really is is there’s it’s really not about the content of the work, but it’s something that Actions that are happening, these human interactions with people that it’s just not satisfying. And, really, that’s what loneliness feels like. Lowness is these these interactions that we have in our lives, and they are either not happening or they are not fulfilling us.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:04:29]:

 

Yeah. And it becomes shallow. Right? Yeah. And and we hunger for connection beyond just a Perfunctory or shallow level. You know? So, Irvine, you know, we always try to ground our discussions in some neuroscience. And so I’m curious, you know, what insights might you share with us about the brain and and and the impact Of loneliness on our brains and and our nervous systems.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:04:57]:

 

Yeah. So I think, you know, we have talked at times about as human beings, You know, we are made wondrously, and part of that is survival. We are created to survive, and we have mechanisms that have evolved over the centuries years millennia that have helped us protect. And so when you think about it then, loneliness shouldn’t be a surprise because, really, it’s it’s something it’s a warning, a beacon for us. So if we’re created to survive, if we’re created to be protected from physical threats, then part of the way that the human person has done that is by creating community. And so if we are in community, we are protected from other people. So, really, feelings of loneliness, some of the evolutionary psychologists have said, You know, feelings of loneliness is this biological signal to remind us that we need other people.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:05:52]:

 

Mhmm.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:05:52]:

 

And if we don’t respond, Actually, what the research is showing us is that the brain itself begins to reshape itself to make us even more lonely. So to emphasize the fact that we need other people. You know? So that famous quote, you know, no man is an island. We aren’t. We’re not created that. We were created to be in connection with one another. And so just, you know, as we talk about loneliness, maybe let’s just ground ourself in a definition. The, American Psychological Associate Association defines loneliness as the discomfort or the uneasiness of being or perceiving oneself to be alone.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:06:29]:

 

It’s this emotional distress we feel when our innate need for intimacy or companionship Handmanship is unmet. I love that. You know? It’s so it’s this this this emotional need, this this gut within us. So What the research points to and I just want, you know, couple of little observations which are are are really fascinating. Mhmm. One, loneliness can be felt As the craving it causes cravings within us, which are just as strong as hunger and thirst. You know? Think about that. You know, our our innate need to to live, to eat, and to drink, well, loneliness can cause cravings that are just as strong.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:07:09]:

 

Wow.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:07:10]:

 

Yeah. And then loneliness can also make us more hostile or pessimistic. Now this is easy to see as well. You know, if we’re in this zone of feeling lonely

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:07:21]:

 

Yeah.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:07:22]:

 

Not surprising that we’re gonna focus more on the negative than the positive. And researchers have done fMRI scans. Those are the ones that light up the brain, and what they’ve found is that People who receive different forms of stimuli are more attracted to negative triggers than positive triggers. So it’s this vicious cycle almost playing. So we’re feeling low, we feel down, and then in turn, that makes us feel more pessimistic or Hostile, and so it’s almost self fulfilling.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:07:54]:

 

Yeah. Because it’s hard to forge connections from a hostile or negative place.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:07:59]:

 

Absolutely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:07:59]:

 

That’s what we that’s the very thing we want.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:08:02]:

 

Absolutely. And then the final thing is is loneliness as well may Make us less likely to trust each other. Now I know in past episodes, we’ve talked about this hormone called Oxytocin, which is called the bonding or the cuddle hormone that makes us, want to cuddle each other. Whenever We rub a baby’s back and we soothe the baby. It’s releasing oxytocin. And what we have found is that people who are going through spells of loneliness actually produce less levels of oxytocin. So in other words, their ability to connect is reduced as well. So, you know, fascinating, you know, this this impact in the brain and how the brain reacts.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:08:43]:

 

But, you know, I know there was a report bridge that they come out earlier this year that just created alarm bells as well from the surgeon general about loneliness. So maybe you wanna tell us a little more about that.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:08:55]:

 

Yeah. This is shocking Because that report from the surgeon general doctor Vivek Murthy said that The social isolation that we’re talking about, that its effect on mortality is equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Wow. I mean, take that in for a minute. That that is just absolutely astounding. And that social isolation, you know, this lack of Connection to families and friends and community and then the loneliness that that causes, which is feeling disconnected, right, Contributes to people having higher levels of several kinds of diseases. Mhmm. And and, you know, things like heart disease, stroke, Anxiety, depression, dementia, and even makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:09:49]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:09:50]:

 

So this is obviously a very, very big deal. And then it’s not just at the individual level because, you know, what affects the individual in terms of health ripples out Into the broader community. And so communities with more social cohesion have less of those diseases. Right? Yeah. Less of that, you know, impact on mortality. You know, in our country in particular, Americans are experiencing more loneliness and isolation than really at any time in recent memory. Of course, Those trends were exacerbated by COVID, but they were already in place before COVID. I think it’s not too hard to see why with the Sort of dissolution of some of our institutions that created those connections.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:10:35]:

 

Right?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:10:36]:

 

Yeah. Yep.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:10:37]:

 

But I guess what I never Really appreciate it until you and I really start talking about this and and wanting to devote an episode to it is just what an extraordinary impact this trend of loneliness has For us as human beings, both personally and, of course, professionally. So let’s kinda talk about that because there’s a workplace impact as well.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:11:03]:

 

Absolutely. Yeah. And, you know, and and it’s interesting. You know, the old story, which I think is borne out by this research, when men Men, Norma, or women, wives normally out outlive their husbands.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:11:15]:

 

Yeah.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:11:16]:

 

But but when husbands outlive, you know, the their length of life tends to be determined actually by how many social connections they have. Yeah. You know, there’s a lot of research coming about men finding it very difficult Have social connections. So I think, you know, there’s a lot of things happening, and, absolutely, this is visiting our workplaces. Mhmm.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:11:38]:

 

Yes. So let’s talk about, like, one of the most, I think, important ways it’s impacting the workplace is Reduction in employee engagement.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:11:49]:

 

Mhmm. Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:11:50]:

 

Right? I mean, let’s just think about it for a second. If engagement is, I would define it as a wholehearted commitment to the organization’s mission and goals and feeling like you play a role in that. Right? You’re all in. And yet, if you are feeling lonely and disconnected at work and the social bonds are just not there, Of course, you’re gonna feel less committed and wholehearted to the organization. You know, we don’t get wholehearted to, you know, offices. We get wholehearted to people. You

 

Irvine Nugent [00:12:21]:

 

know? Absolutely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:12:22]:

 

And and there’s so much research around the connection between employee engagement and productivity and profitability. And so There’s an impact obviously on us personally, health wise, but in the workplace, you know, employee engagement is what’s at stake. And then, of course, turnover Because the lower your employee engagement scores, the higher your turnover goes. So, Irvine, I’m just curious. We’ve talked about what Loneliness is and and, like, why the brain reacts the way it does to it and these extraordinary effects it has. But why do you think people get lonely at work?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:13:02]:

 

Yeah. It’s such an interesting question. I think, you know, there’s a couple of things I just point to. One is kind of situational. So I think, you know, we’ve just mentioned COVID. We’ve mentioned this rise of remote work. And even, you know, with People returning to work. There are companies now which are structured on the idea of remote work.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:13:20]:

 

I have a client who All the workers are remote. There is a core team at the central headquarters, but 95% of people are remote. And I think some people do that better than others.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:13:32]:

 

Yeah.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:13:33]:

 

I remember, you know, during COVID, I had 2 clients in New York. Both of them were living in about a 1000 square feet of space because we had conversations about this. And one was dealing with it beautifully, and the other was almost in despair. Yeah. And I think the one in despair was missing the connections, and it really impacted them. So it was a lesson for me that everyone experiences These situations differently, and it’s important for us to understand that. And some people have better skills. And let me just move that to the 2nd point then.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:14:03]:

 

I think, you know, I am seeing people having trouble with people skills and connecting skills.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:14:10]:

 

Yes.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:14:11]:

 

And so, You know, people wanting connection and yet feeling, how do I do it? How do I about it? You know? So even difficulty with how do I make small Talk or should I share my personality or not or what’s right or wrong, and they’re inside their head. And and and maybe, you know, I just don’t have common interest with people, and so what’s Point in talking with them.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:14:31]:

 

Do you think that’s because we’ve gotten rusty?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:14:33]:

 

I think so. I think we’re out of practice. Now I think there were trends even before. You know, I can remember some trends of of kind of younger generation in the workforce prefer texting rather than conversation. You know, people don’t wanna call, so I think we’re we’re out of practice in having conversation. You know? And at the core of human connection is conversation. And so if these skills are rusty, then it’s a problem. Uh-huh.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:14:59]:

 

Yeah. And and I think at schools, they’re seeing that a lot, you know, that that kids are Really rusty behaviorally.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:15:06]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:15:07]:

 

And so, yeah, I’m I’m Yeah. I’m right there with you.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:15:10]:

 

And then, you know, I I think it’s important that To name that some companies do community better than others. I think there are some companies whose culture is very clearly around Connections and making community, etcetera. And there are others that that are really much more hard line, and it’s about the work and about productivity, and It’s more inflexible and, you know, it overemphasizes productivity. You know, I think companies are going through evolving on this. There are many I don’t know about you, but there are many companies before COVID who said we could never have remote work. It’s impossible. And then Right. We survive.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:15:46]:

 

You know? So and I think there’s advantages disadvantages of remote work. But I think, you know, some organizations are very rigid in the rules, and I and I think they don’t honor the need for community that people have.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:15:58]:

 

As you were speaking, it reminded me of, you know, this notion of some companies do community better than others. My longest term client came to mind. He list the guy who started this business listens to our podcast, so Shout out to you. As you’re listening, you know I’m talking about you. He has talked for many, many, many years. This company is 20 years old. For many years, about community. That that’s a very intentional commitment that they have And that that’s what he loves about what he’s created is the community at work.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:16:32]:

 

Nothing’s perfect, but To your point, some companies do it better than others.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:16:38]:

 

Yeah. Yeah. And then just one final thing I would say, you know, we always try and put Topics in some form of relationship with the systems perspective, zooming out and saying what’s happening in the systems here. I know one element of looking at systems is that within us, you know, we say that a leader has to be close enough to people to influence, but distance enough to lead. And we all have tendencies, and our tendencies can be to get closer and ever closer or to withdraw and withdraw even more. And and I think if you just sit back and think, you know, whenever you’re suffering from anxiety or you have tension, Do you tend to go into it, or you tend to withdraw? Yeah. And I think, you know, there are extremes, and the extreme is cut off that We actually cut ourselves off from emotional connection or we fuse become so tight. And I think that we’re if we’re leading our managers and that our Tendency is to cut off.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:17:33]:

 

I think we need to be careful with that because it can impact an organization, especially if we’re leading that organization. Mhmm. And I think some of the dangers are is that it almost creates a culture where loneliness can thrive almost. Mhmm. And so it can create a culture where there’s closed doors, where there’s withdrawal of communication, people left out of information loops. The mood tends to be a little heavier. So you can just see that all of those can create kind of their really fertile ground for loneliness not to be addressed. And so, anyway, for I just think as a leader, it’s just important, you know, where where do I stand in that spectrum? And it’s it’s okay.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:18:12]:

 

There’s nothing wrong with being 1 or the other. But I think it’s important for us to realize that if we are in the withdrawal, you know, with withdrawal, then it’s important just to what kind of culture am I creating around me with that.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:18:25]:

 

Yes. I agree, Irvine, because if we are if we react to rising anxiety by distancing, You know, emotionally or physically. That’s gonna create one kind of culture and it’s gonna impact community.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:18:38]:

 

Yep.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:18:38]:

 

And if we’re a fuser And go the other way to the extreme, that’s not necessarily healthier. Right? It’s the balance that you were talking about. So Being aware of your own default tendency there, it’s so interesting. It has a a definite implication for Culture and community. The level of community and therefore the level of connection

 

Irvine Nugent [00:19:01]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:19:02]:

 

That people feel in your organization.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:19:05]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:19:06]:

 

Yeah. I remember one time, I went into the office for the first time of this client, and I only talked to him by phone. And so I go into the office, and it was the most quiet office I’d ever been in. I was like, are are there any human beings here? And I walked Down and, like, nobody looks up. Everybody’s just in their cubicles, you know, no chattering, nothing. And I was like, this is interesting. Then my client introduced me to the CEO, and he was as distant as you could possibly be with a person actually being Physically in your presence.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:19:42]:

 

Wow. Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:19:43]:

 

And it was a young company, and they had absorbed to your point his more distant Yeah. Way of being. So That’s a really interesting point. Alright. So, Irvine, bottom lining it for our listeners then, how Do we combat loneliness in the workplace?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:20:01]:

 

Let’s look at it in 2 different aspects. Let’s look at it as an organization, what we do organizationally and maybe then what can we do personally? So I think organizationally, you know, an interesting place to look at is Actually, begin at the very beginning in onboarding. What are you doing in the onboarding process to create Connection and to make sure that new employees don’t feel intimidated, feel they can talk as problems come up. What are we doing to help new employee make connections either with mentors or with some peers so that they’re able to Not so much feel uncomfortable in the newness. We all we all have experience of being new, and and it is not something well, we the vast majority of us Feel uncomfortable in that. So I think, you know, organizationally, it’s really good to to ask, you know, in the onboarding process, how do we make connection?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:20:57]:

 

Yeah.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:20:58]:

 

And then I think it’s also good for organizations to examine the present culture. Cultures are tricky because I think there are norms and values which are on the wall, and then there are norms and values which are not unspoken, but you can see in the relationships and the way people function. And I think it’s really important to ask, is ours a culture in which connection can thrive?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:21:23]:

 

Good question.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:21:24]:

 

Yeah. Do we have a culture that affirms caring and compassion, Tenderness even when when someone’s feeling down, how do we treat each other on a personal level? Do we have a culture where it’s okay to speak up Whenever we have a problem, or is it a culture really that you can see anger, frustration, or irritation, or annoyance around? And I think that is something that, although unexpressed, can be seen. So I think it’s great work for an organization just to actually Stop and think about those questions. And then the other thing is this sense of connection, but I think the word maybe you haven’t used it today, but the Sense of belonging and inclusion. And I think one of the ways we feel we have a sense of belonging and inclusion is in decision making. And so I think it’s important for organizations to know how do we make decisions. Yeah. Not that every decision has to have a voice from everyone.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:22:23]:

 

But are there decisions in which we are really including people, and people feel that they have a voice? And I think those are 3 different areas that can really help organizationally an organization respond to loneliness. Yeah. Bridgettete, what about individuals? Is there any way that individuals can take it upon themselves to combat some of the loneliness they might feel?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:22:47]:

 

Sure. Of course. I mean, I think sometimes we just need to switch it up at work. You know? Maybe we’re feeling disconnected and A little lonely, not because of any cultural elements, but rather just that we we’ve gotten into a rut or a routine with our job. And we’ve been doing the same thing with the same people and, you know, it gets a little stale. So maybe we request to join a new team, For example, right, to make some new connections and breathe some new life into, you know, our work situation. Right? I think that there’s an element of personal responsibility here. Right? So if we feel distant, Disconnected and lonely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:23:31]:

 

There’s some things that we can do ourselves, and that’s one of them. How could we switch it off? Right? I think another thing is If you’re a manager, a lot of people who listen to us are leaders managing teams. And I think make it easy for people on your teams To connect. There’s so many ways, so many creative ways that enhance connection. I mean, it can be as simple as, Lots of people do this, but do you have really interesting icebreaker questions at the beginning of every team meeting That open up the conversation, you know, or do you just get right down to work? Because that doesn’t foster the same level of connection. Right? Or what about So I know this is gonna seem counterintuitive, but making some of your meetings Zoom free meetings, turn the cameras off And allow people to get a little bit of a break from that because there could be a lot of fatigue associated with that. Right? I mean, Do you ever feel fatigue with that, Irvine?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:24:31]:

 

Yeah. Because I think you’re you feel you’re always on. And I think I think of every meeting that is I’m always have to be on, then I think there is definitely fatigue. And remember, we’ve talked about this in an earlier episode of just the brain tIrvineeg of looking at yourself and and seeing yourself. There’s 1 company I’m working with at the moment, and, actually, they they actually have have this I wouldn’t say it’s a formal policy, but it’s an unspoken policy that That there are meetings when there’s an expectation everyone shows up on camera, and they tend to be meetings which either important meetings, Meetings whether it’s brainstorming, etcetera, where it’s it’s helpful to see each other. But if it’s mere informational meetings, etcetera, you know, the the it’s okay. Not if you have just have to listen in or whatever. So I I think that’s important.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:25:16]:

 

I agree. And I think the other thing is that we can all talk about this Trend this phenomena of loneliness and normalize it. Yeah. Just like, you know, mental health in general is something we’re still having to work really hard at to have Any conversation about.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:25:31]:

 

Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:25:32]:

 

And that’s unfortunate because the more you normalize something, the more we can do something about it. It doesn’t live in the shadows. Right?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:25:40]:

 

Yep. Absolutely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:25:42]:

 

That’s something I think that can make a big difference. Okay. So those are some of my thoughts. And now I’m thinking, you know, Irvine, We’ve covered so much ground, but we always like to end with some kind of a core practice for folks. So I’m curious what you have in mind for that.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:25:57]:

 

I think a good core practice for this would be to experiment with more interesting questions. We talked a little bit earlier about people are unpracticed, and small talk and and creating kind of conversation can be difficult. And I think it’s because we don’t ask good questions. Or, you know, when you think about it, so many of our conversations are very perfunctory. You know? How are you? I’m fine. Oh, the weather’s good. Yes. It is.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:26:24]:

 

You know, and it’s just with these typical questions. So maybe spice it up and throw in a few questions that make people go, oh, Here’s just a few throwing up, but I but, you know, I think if you Google interesting conversation openers, you will get lists and lists and lists. Yeah. But here’s you know, what made you smile today? Do you listen to any podcasts? Hopefully, it’s this one. And what are your favorites? And that just opens a cup why? What is it about that podcast? What are the subjects, you know, that you can just see where that conversation could go? What was the last good book you read? Mhmm. What was the last concert you went to? You know, music so often is a bonding one. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:27:01]:

 

Love that one.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:27:02]:

 

Yeah. And what mentor has made the greatest impact in your life? So these are questions that they don’t necessarily or sometimes, I think people worry that that I’m invading privacy, but I think these are questions that are interesting. They’re nonthreatening questions. They’re questions that people enjoy answering. And I think what happens is we begin to have conversations where all of a sudden, you know, we share this or we share that. That’s amazing. And then it just takes a life of its own. So my challenge and practice is is to come up with, you know, a list of 10 questions that are out of the ordinary that you could begin a conversation And see where they go.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:27:39]:

 

Love it. So simple, practical, and yet, you know, asking these kinds of Questions, like you said, see where they go. Sometimes they lead us to these really interesting places, and we make connections with people that We formally held at arm’s length. Right?

 

Irvine Nugent [00:27:56]:

 

Yep.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:27:56]:

 

That’s the cool thing.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:27:57]:

 

Absolutely. Yeah.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:27:59]:

 

Well, Irvine, thank you so much for bringing this topic To the podcast. When you mentioned it as something for us to explore, you know, I was very curious and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I think it’s so important. We you know, when we are experiencing social isolation and loneliness, remember the impact on our health Is, you know, similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is this is a big deal. Yep. It’s in our best interest as as human beings, as colleagues, As leaders, to address it. And the good news is that we can.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:28:34]:

 

There are some things that we can definitely do. Thanks again to our listeners for joining us for our 50th episode. Yay. We encourage you to join us for our next topic and keep spreading the word. We’re getting so much positive feedback, and we thank you for that. Irvine, thank you, as always, for being such a great collaborator.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:28:56]:

 

Thanks, Bridgette. Really enjoyed this, and everyone have a wonderful week ahead. You know? And one of the beautiful things about Irish pubs is that there are no strangers. They they actually the the circle wipes. So considering this topic today, is there someone that you could invite into your circle in the coming week that might make them feel a little less lonely.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:29:17]:

 

Oh, and better yet, invite them to an Irish pub.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:29:20]:

 

There we go. Even better.

 

Bridgette Theurer [00:29:22]:

 

Alright. Take care, everybody. Bye bye.

 

Irvine Nugent [00:29:24]:

 

Everyone. Bye bye now.

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