The changing human behavior
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2020 - 12:00am

A common question I get from the many webinars and FB live episodes I have done these three weeks is: “How are we going to change in response to the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic?”

My response is: “We do not change in response to a crisis. The crisis enforces change upon us as is evident today.” I chanced upon a material in LinkedIn presented by a marketing expert I happen to know and respect. Martin Lindstrom says: “Psychologists argue that the most stressful situations we encounter in life are divorce, the death of someone we love, and moving from one home to another. Well, now they can add a fourth experience to the statistics: the coronavirus.

Today’s experts agree. The pandemic will have a profound, long-lasting impact on us.

1. People will gain weight because of “Mindless Munching.”

We’re eating on autopilot. Experiments show that when rats are under severe stress, they eat more. When we humans are tired, our craving for dopamine causes us to eat more. And when major changes take place… yes, you got it right: we eat more. Thus, the post-coronavirus prediction is simple. We’ll see a major uptake in eating and everything that comes with it. Cooking programs, diet books, healthy living courses, diet programs...

2. Breakdown in relationships.

Domestic violence has increased three-fold in certain US states since self-isolation kicked in. Close proximity to our family members, the lack of routine, and the temporary closure of churches are major factors. You and I execute more than 350 routines and rituals daily. The latest estimates indicate that we’ve changed 40 percent of these due to the crisis. Experiments with chickens show that changing feeding routines leads to violence among the chickens – after only two hours!”

The conclusion is simple but scary: expect the divorce rate to skyrocket after the coronavirus.

3. What is my purpose in life?

With all that, we’ll wake up to another reality, another view on life. Many people have realized what loneliness means. Many are already heading full-on towards depression. There’s only so much Netflix one can watch. And with that, we’ll re-examine our role in society.

Some will use this time to their advantage and rebrand themselves, so to speak.

They’ll use the coronavirus as a second chance to create a new self-image, to get a second chance for a comeback.

The perceived value of money will also change. We’ll ask ourselves: What is money worth, anyway, if we can’t use it? As a result, we’ll most likely see people living fuller lives. We’ll see a rebound of the bucket-list: more daring sports and adventures, parties, holidays, and quality times with friends and family.

We survived the virus and learned the efficiency of a 100 percent digital lifestyle, but as appealing as it first seemed, something was missing. We need that something – our craving for a physical sense of belonging, a desire for human connection – at any price.” 

Of course, we still do not have enough data to extrapolate findings to a more accurate degree but one thing is for certain. It is going to be a different world we are entering.

Social distancing or what we prefer to call “physical distancing” does not mean social isolation. There is still an innate need for community. Today we use technology. But the virus has propelled us to ask important questions we never asked when times were normal.

I am answering questions like: “I know there is a God but how can I feel His presence?”

“Why is there pain and suffering in the world? “How can I as a leader maintain calmness and peace with our team and members who are anxious, worried and living in fear?”

God consciousness is on the rise. Whereas it was considered politically incorrect to talk about spiritual matters in public specially in certain parts of this world, now you see and hear people everywhere saying: “Our prayers are with you.”

I wake up every morning and pray differently now. Every day is a daily dependence on God’s grace for protection and provision. Protection that my family is spared from the virus, that our front liners be protected, and that healing comes to those who have been afflicted. Provision that God would put food on our table and provide for the many who are in need. Crises change people. And my prayer is that this one changes us for the good.

(Connect with Francis Kong in Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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