Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

By now you’ve probably expressed what you are thankful for. It’s that time of year. As Thanksgiving rolled around, each of us was encouraged to take a moment to pause and reflect. We are, in fact, prompted time and time again throughout the entire holiday season to embrace gratitude and to recognize the things and people we appreciate in our daily lives. This is good.

But, this year is different. Boy, is it different. Leading into Thanksgiving, I participated in numerous virtual meetings where the theme was to give voice to what we were thankful for. This is a solid exercise. It forces us to really consider it during a difficult time, and to share our thoughts with others. Listening to different people sparks ideas and feelings that we may not have realized, or completely understood. I’ve even seen some tears.

What sticks with me the most is our collective desire to communicate. We want to communicate with friends and family, with our colleagues, our customers and clients. And while we are thankful for these connections, the sound of grief is often woven into these conversations. We are grieving for close connections, for spontaneous gatherings, for togetherness without fear.

I’ve spent most of my life studying and practicing effective communication. The loss we are experiencing is deeper, I feel, than most realize. Yes, we know this too will pass. But, so will so many other opportunities that have slipped by. So, we need to recognize this and take actions to ensure that we do our very best to communicate, in whatever fashion works the best for our situations.

To me it was summed up, in terms of business connections, by a gentleman on one of my many Zoom calls. He said that one of the things that he missed the most was “creative collisions”. That really hit me. We’ve all experienced this, that moment when our conversations and discussions suddenly solidify around an idea or notion that we hadn’t considered. One that may be brilliant. One that may be insightful. One that may lead us forward in ways we hadn’t imagined.

I don’t intend to paint a gloom and doom picture with this column. My intention is to remind us all of the things that we have and all of the people that enrich our lives. However, I hope that we will all reach out even more intentionally to make essential connections. We must communicate as if our lives depend upon it. Because, they do. We need creative collisions.

During the holidays, remember to reach out to local businesses. Have a positive idea that might make a difference for a business or organization? Let them know. Shop local when possible. Your support matters.

Market your own business or organization with a creative flair, in ways you may not previously have considered. Prepare for 2021. Review your marketing plans to see what is working, and what may need attention. Consider focus groups to determine your strengths and weaknesses as perceived by others. This may be done remotely and provides a great way to receive important feedback. Dust off ideas you may have had in the past that may be perfect now. Think about networking more, even if it doesn’t feel like it has in the past. Use this time to update your website, or complete social media planning. Learn more about effective communication and how you can utilize it in your situation. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

While creative collisions may not happen spontaneously, it doesn’t mean that they won’t happen. We just have to put our minds to it.

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