THE CONSEQUENCES OF COVID

Recently, I read an interesting article that shared information about how face masks, social distancing and other Covid-19 precautions are affecting early childhood development.


This particular article referred to a study which showed a slump in scores in three key cognitive tests amongst children, when comparing results in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. You can read the Daily Mail article here.


In an article that I published earlier this year “Meeting Generation-Covid” I discuss the world’s newest generation – Gen-C – and look at the advantages and disadvantages that have already presented themselves to this generation.


I’d like to look at another perspective today though, one that takes the Daily Mail article into consideration. This article looks at how face masks, in particular, are preventing young children from identifying and processing the emotions of others. This might seem insignificant now, when presented amongst all the other issues we’re facing at the moment, but in 15 – 20 years’ time, when these children start to enter the workplace, we’re going to be faced with a very different generation to the one before.


This will probably be the first generation in social history who won’t remember the workplace without robots as colleagues. Think about that, when for some of them their line managers will be Boomers who once owned a Blackberry (a what?). When put like that, the rapid rate of change becomes evident.


We know, from over 25 years of studying facial and body movement, that no one can ever predict someone else's feelings or sentiment just by “reading” their body language. Growing up behind masks, however, means that children have already begun to miss out on some normal development of their own through not being able to perceive emotion. From what I know from identity theory, this will create self-doubt. That’s why I believe that not being able to read emotions behind masks will have much greater consequences on the C-Generation than we have given thought to.


Every generation is socialised or "shaped" by the era in which they are. What defines an era is usually a massive event like 9/11 or Covid-19 to act like a climax or catalyst for underlining socio-economic tensions to radically shift both our social consciousness and social obedience. In other words, how we behave in social dynamics. In this current era, the Covid-era, children will grow up not having developed the ability to perceive emotions.


TWO BIG THINGS TO FLAG FOR KEEPING FUTURE-FIT


Communication cues will be different. This is because facial expressions are such a big part of connection between people, or not. Naturally we tend to focus on the whole face rather than specific features when interacting with people, and when we wear masks, processing the whole face is interrupted. This could potentially breed mistrust in teams – even more mistrust than we experience now.


Another worrying trend that I predict is increased insecurity. When we don’t feel we can read someone, or connect with them, we tend to doubt ourselves. The mouth is also a particularly expressive part of the body. There are 19 different types of smiles, according to studies done at and only six of them communicate happiness. If the development of processing and interpreting the expressions made by the mouth are missed out on in normal childhood development, there is a potential for increased insecurity, low self-esteem and self-doubt will be the consequence.


These are literally the antithesis of the kinds of employees we need for future business, which is why it an absolutely necessity to start to ask yourself how comfortable you are with leading hybrid work teams. Hybrid meaning both on and off line, but also multi-generational humans and robots all at the same time. If you thought the last five years were intense, watch this space for the next five!


Not only do I focus on emotional intelligence and social intelligence Personal Mastery programmes. but also on teaching the practice of somatic intelligence, by teaching delegates how to build a connection with themselves, so that they can build an authentic connection with others. I teach you how to listen with understanding, how to communicate intentionally. These lessons are important for adults to learn, in order to understand and correctly process the knock-on effect that the global pandemic will have on our societies in years to come.


For more information about joining my Personal Mastery programme which kicks off in February 2022, please contact sam@saffronbaggallay.co.za.

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