Pandemic behaviour explained: The good, the bad

15 May, 2020 - 00:05 0 Views

eBusiness Weekly

Robert Gonye

People need certainty. Because of loss aversion, we know that people really like to keep what they have. Living in uncertain times when we don’t even know what’s going to happen next week is difficult for all of us. As a result, it brings out both the best and the worst in us.

For example, working from home at the moment and living on lockdown like almost everyone else, I use Zoom to socialise. I was part of a Zoom call with my colleagues to continue our tradition of sharing business tips on Friday nights. The problem was the lead facilitator proposed it for Thursday. You should have seen the backlash he received. To be honest, I didn’t think it was intentional because, frankly, maybe since he is in a different time zone he might have forgotten. The rest of the team didn’t though, and made it clear that support Business Tips Forum takes place only on Fridays. Period!


Industry leader and specialist psychiatrist Dr SM Chirisa is known for often advising people in maintaining your schedule to the best you can in times of uncertainty. There are many mental health benefits to it, which are related to our desire for certainty and predictability. People can find comfort in the assurance of the process, even if the outcome is unknown.


The last few weeks saw a lot of changes in business and even family model management. Studies show that people get more aggressive, more violent with scarcity. While it is not always good to endure any scarcity, it also can pull us together. In times of shortage or crisis, a magnificent community building happens.

Have you seen the videos of communities showing support for all of the health workers, or businesses which are reaching out to support key people who are working in the front-line against Covid-19 as well as even families affected through food donations and safety gear?  It’s the small things that matter which we will all cherish and find uplifting.


We are all experiencing losses in this pandemic at different stages. It could be school time, jobs or vacations. In some cases, it can be the passing of a loved one. But it can also be less tragic things like income or vacation.

Some students will miss part of their last year in a school classroom set up or graduations, along with other activities of passage that many of us take for granted. In times like these, another important element to understand is the model on grief put forward by a Swiss-American psychologist.

The five stages of grief

Denial: You can’t believe it happened.

Anger:  You feel frustrated and anxious that it happened.

Depression:  You feel overwhelmed and hostile that it happened to you.

Bargaining:  You struggle to find meaning in its happening.

Acceptance:  You surrender to reality and move forward with the options you still have because it happened.

This model is useful in the pandemic environment today. We are all grieving for what we all had just a short time ago, a time when Covid-19 was something we had never heard of, and going to the grocery store didn’t involve social distancing or temperature checks at the point of entry. There are lots of different ways that we can be going through this model. One is just kind-of our acceptance of reality and then our worry about the virus.  Moreover, you may have a separate stage of grief processing for whatever is going on with your job or opportunities that you’ve missed, like family reunions or long-awaited trips with family and friends or even a wedding.  It’s appropriate to grieve for those things, its encouraged to allow yourself space and time to process these losses as best you can.

So, what is next?

The exciting thing is that we are not going back to the way we were before. People are going to be feeling different. In my lifetime, this situation is the biggest thing I have been through. This pandemic is going to change the way people think and work.

If organisations believe that everything is going to go back to the way it was, they will be mistaken. Instead, I would suggest that organisations understand how people are coming out of the other side of this pandemic and time of social distancing.


Too many people are looking at this and thinking it will go back to normal. But, there will be a new normal. What drives value will also be different. The channels people use will be different. More things will be online, which I think is good news. Retail has been struggling and this could be the much needed lifeline anyway, so online could help. People will need to re-evaluate how their customers are feeling and what they value coming out of the pandemic. There will be a “new” normal, and the question is, what will that be and its impact on business value? In other words, we might need to learn how our customers’ feelings reflect that is how they feel about us as a business and what they really expect going forward. The good news is, we will get through this. There are better times ahead.

People are reaching the acceptance stage and are looking for ways to make it work for the duration of those under the stay-at-home orders. People will move on. Please stay safe. Be with your family, and make sure that you’re okay.


Robert Gonye is a business growth expert and influencer. He writes in his personal capacity. Comments and views: [email protected]


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