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The Newsletter | Edition 041
In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This weekly newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

We've spent the past year+ working remote. We've become experts in Zooming, Google Docs, navigating calendars, analyzing each other's backgrounds, greeting each other's pets, partners, and kids with familiarity. But as companies begin to prepare for what's next, from all-in back to the office plans to hybrid models, it's time to get ready to step away from URL and into IRL again. But have we lost our IRL social mojo? Or if it's just rusty, how do we effectively start to plan our own reintegration into office life; one rampant with the social interactions we've nearly forgotten?
  1. How not to socialize yourself ragged, from Jillian Rosen-Filz
  2. It's all coming back to us, from Ben Cheney
  3. The tax on change, from Joey Camire
And this time, our illustrations from Ash Casper.


From Jillian Rosen-Filz


A “social hangover,” also known as an “introvert hangover,” rears its ugly head after too much socializing (or an extended social bender, if you will). It’s a feeling of sheer physical and emotional exhaustion with side effects similar to an alcohol-induced hangover: grogginess, anxiety, body aches, and more.


After a year + of being from home, flexing your social muscles again at work might feel daunting.

While the term “social hangover” may have traditionally been resonant with introverts, there’s no doubt many of us will feel its effects as we return to some form of physical office life. It’s easy to understand why: this sudden change of pace (and the people, so many people!) might stress us out at first, whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or anywhere in between. Many of us heading back to the office may need resources that help ourselves, and our teams, minimize its effects.


Remind your team that they have permission to set social boundaries at work.


For many of us, the prospect of coming back to the office, socializing with our work friends, and collaborating around a table sounds fun. Enticing, even. I fall into this camp. But I also don’t. I consider myself an extroverted introvert in the sense that, while I enjoy being social, I also experience anxiety and overstimulation if I commit to too much of it and don’t allow myself the alone time to recalibrate.

I’m excited about getting back to the office, and I also know that boundaries are key. First, set them: communicate how you’re feeling openly and honestly to your teammates (and yourself). Then, remember to practice them: introducing new ‘quiet time’ moments into your work schedule may help. Meditation, lunchtime walks alone, or 20-minute breaks to immerse yourself in a book, podcast, or playlist might help you create new norms that ensure you’re not socializing yourself ragged. And, that, you know, you can actually enjoy being around people again.


From Ben Cheney


Our IRL social muscles have atrophied, there’s no doubt about that. But just like our physical bodies, muscle memory will likely prevail and we may actually bounce back stronger and more socially swole than ever before (as Cher says, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now!!)


Each of us has spent years, if not decades, training our IRL social muscles. Regardless of whether you were more McLovin than Schwarzeneggar, we all had our unique approaches and styles to IRL social interactions. Then came COVID, throwing us into a prolonged period of de-training, a moment where many of our IRL social muscles were forced to lay dormant, and therefore may have atrophied. But, we are resilient beings, social by nature, who will undoubtedly rebuild our social muscle fibres soon after a return to IRL.


Trust your social muscles. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will all come back.


As with strength training, too much stimulation out of the gate can be counterproductive. A thoughtful, calibrated, personal approach to re-immersion will help each individual begin to re-train their social muscles and regain their footing without overwhelming or causing irreversible social muscle damage.


From Joey Camire


The key to managing your emotions in difficult times, or even through day-to-day undulations, may be as simple as expanding the granularity with which you label, communicate, and in turn understand how you’re feeling. (Bonus: we spoke about Emotional Granularity on Critical Nonsense this week as well, though with a different bent.)


Back in December I’d written about the difficulty of transitions with regard to slowing down when entering into a holiday break or vacation. What I hadn’t realized is how much I was going to need my own advice after the turmoil of 2020. I was feeling depleted from the fear of not doing enough to carry our team through difficult times. I was feeling trapped in a moment when I wanted to let loose. I was feeling isolated not being able to see my family for Christmas. But I wasn’t labeling those emotions so clearly at the time.

Even when change is desired—for those excited to return to social settings, collaboration with co-workers, or simply gather indoors—transitions are taxing. Winning the lottery is depressing. Moving, even when upgrading, impacts your sense of safety. The list goes on.

The thing here, though, is we’re all set to be going through this together. And while the emotions we’ll experience will be idiosyncratic, the sense of disruption will be shared. The most critical thing may be simply to expand the specificity of the language we use to describe our feelings.


Explore a list of complex emotions and try to target where you sit.


There are lots of lists of emotions online. And if those don’t work for you, feel free to make up your own. It might feel a “touchy feely” exercise, but data shows the people who have a more granular sense of their emotional state spend less time sick, recover more quickly, and respond more flexibly to changing scenarios. And the good news is, like EQ more broadly, you can do work to improve it. What a relief.

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