With all the talk lately of remote work and virtual employees, it’s easy to forget that many people still have to work in a brick and mortar environment, elbow to elbow with colleagues and supervisors. The reality is that, in these situations, there is often a need for us to create a “distance” between ourselves and those around us. It could be because your colleague suddenly get a promotion, and is now your direct manager, or vice versa. Or perhaps that last group project was a rough one, and resulted in some office tension and lingering hard feelings. Distance may be needed because a co-worker has left the office and responsibilities are being divided up, or someone new has joined the company. Any of the above scenarios are likely to put some strain on your work relationships that distance may help defuse.

Often, though, especially in open space work environments or smaller offices, achieving physical distance might not be possible. But you can still achieve some distance — psychological distance. Psychological distance simply means taking a step back from those around you, your colleagues, even your clients, and rearranging your priorities. It is often defined as a “gap” or “social distance” that needs to be created between you and your co-workers in order to keep working conditions positive and healthy. Psychological distance allows us to take a break from constant mental connection and focus on ourselves, which is something that is good for us and our relationships, business and otherwise.

There is also something called experiential distance, which involves imagining something before you experience it. This is something leaders should understand and get comfortable with, because it will allow them to recognize the positive effects of psychological […]