How far is too far when it comes to opening up?

Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Moe Carrick had butterflies in her stomach when she sat down recently with an employee who had just returned to work after having a baby. This was going to be a hard conversation.

Although she was thrilled to have the team member back, Carrick had noticed that during Zoom calls the baby was always in the new mom’s arms. She found herself wondering: Had she come back too soon? Was she ready to take her responsibilities back on? Was she giving her all to the team the way she used to? …

An ‘open mic’ approach can encourage greater engagement

A photo of a South Asian woman talking on the mic on a video conference call.
A photo of a South Asian woman talking on the mic on a video conference call.
Photo: fizkes/Getty Images

On a recent Zoom call, Bridget Fahrland and two colleagues kept their microphones on, allowing the sounds of home life to filter in. One colleague’s son popped into the frame. Another repeatedly shushed her boomer parents who were chatting nearby. Fahrland’s seven-year-old melted down when the movie Coco ended in the next room.

At the end, they all declared the meeting a success.

A muted microphone is typically one of the first things hosts enforce to minimize distractions on video meetings. …

At Summit, an ideas conference that has drawn celebrities from Jeff Bezos to A$AP Rocky, it’s all about human connection

Illustrations: Jan Buchczik

One by one, people take the mic as they stride into the circle.

“Step into the center if you know your passion and you’re following it,” one orders.

“Step into the center if you believe in healing trauma with psychedelics,” says another.

At each command, dozens lunge forward, eager to identify with their tribe.

“Step into the circle if you’re a dog person.” That’s me. “Step into the circle if you’re an only child.” Me, again. “Step into the circle if both your parents have died.” Yup.

I don’t move. I may be an only child and a dog person…

This is my mom. Stunning, isn’t she? Beautiful inside and out. It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since she died.

In some ways, the time has flown by. And much has changed. My strong and disciplined dad who used to swim three days a week, work out in the gym and write a nature column for the newsletter in the community where he lives, suffered a heart attack and now also battles dementia. My son, who was a little boy in his first real suit at his grandmother’s funeral, is now a young man, taller than both his…

Most days, dad sleeps a lot. But today, he’s wide awake. He’s on the phone, yelling at me. He’s so angry, but there’s sadness in his voice, too. “I don’t have any money, I don’t have a car. I don’t even have any shoes,” he tells me. “And I’ve got to go down and see mom and dad.”

Now, my dad is 92 and his parents have been gone for decades. He has money in bank accounts that he doesn’t remember how to access, and he has a car he’s no longer able to drive. These days, his shoes…

Diana McKeon Charkalis

Diana is a freelance journalist who’s been published by USA Today, New York Times News Service, Prevention, Parents and more. Visit for more.

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