Matt Lovell gives us his take on language that’s entered the mainstream since COVID-19

It feels like a long time ago, but it was only as recently as October when there weren’t so many restrictions, and pubs, bars and restaurants were allowed to open, that I recall a conversation with my 8-year-old son regarding our plans for the weekend.  

I was due to meet a friend for a drink and our kids were going to kick a ball between them in the park. When explaining this to my son, I suddenly became aware of just how much I use the statement: ‘socially distanced of course’.   

Now it may seem strange and yes, it’s just a saying, but think about it; how many times have you used it in the past 9 months? How many times will you use it in the future (when we’re allowed to meet again of course)?  

We’re all saying this without even realising it, and, arguably, it’s the quickest a phrase has been adopted by a nation, let alone the world. But what’s the psychology behind this? Are we reassuring ourselves? Reassuring and signifying to others that we’re sticking to the rules and guidelines set by the Government? Both maybe?  

What it does show is how we are all adapting to the rules and guidance that comes with COVID-19. Whilst we all become more accustomed to this new way of living, we too become more accustomed to conversing with each other using new, socially accepted/expected phrases:  

I went for a drink with a friend…socially distanced of course’.
I met a friend for a walk with the dog…socially distanced of course’. 

 I know where I’m concerned, if I had a pound for every time I’ve said ‘socially distanced of course’ my kids would replicate the little ducks from DuckTales swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s fortune.  

From a business perspective it takes a somewhat different form: 

Let’s meet for a coffee and discuss…socially distanced of course’.
Our employees are working in the office…socially distanced of course’. 

The phrase, or as I refer to it, the 2020 strapline, is forming a huge part in our communications with one another. It’s unlikely to change any time soon either! We will continue to reassure those we are talking to and show that we are doing our bit to comply with the rules and guidelines. 

So, with that unanimously agreed, let’s address number 2 on the list of our new sayings. 

It’s at this point I could question why society has managed to reach a point where it has taken a pandemic to remind us all to wish people well in a more personal, meaningful way than ‘kind regards’ in emails, messages etc. but that’s a completely different conversation. 

However, we have now added a new sign off to each other, one that seems somewhat more relevant in a COVID-19 world – ‘Stay safe’. Kind regards just doesn’t seem sufficient enough anymore, or I should say, not empathetic enough when going through a pandemic, does it?  

As business leaders, we feel the need to provide more meaningful messages now more than ever. So, in every sign off, whether you physically write the words or fight the inner you not to (perhaps this blog post may make you buck the trend), be sure to tally how many times you sign off with Stay safe’.

Have a great day. Stay safe.’
Thanks mate. Stay safe.’
I look forward to hearing from you. Stay safe. 

 There are many different variations to signing off in a meaningful way, but however you do it, I hope we all continue to wish people well beyond the pandemic – it’s the human thing to do. 

 The way in which we have adopted these new phrases underlines just how much we as people are influenced by a greater purpose. From here you can make your own assumptions as to what that says about us as human beings.  For me it shows just how easily we are prepared to comply when we believe in something. In addition, despite some of the negative comments regarding the Government’s handling of the UK’s approach to Covid-19, it shows their messaging is working in the social domain. 

 The world as we know it has and still is changing. We as people are changing too and through COVID-19, new habits are forming. We all need to be aware of this and adapt accordingly…socially distanced of course. 

 Stay safe.