When you enjoy your teammates’ company, being away from them can be hard to handle. If not effectively managed, an extended hiatus will weaken the connection between teammates and hinder the team’s chances for future success. The longer the hiatus, the higher the probability of this happening.

Time and distance strain relationships. Sports teams experience this strain during the offseason, as do military marriages and quarantined work colleagues. Relationships that remain strong through periods of separation are the products of intentional actions to counter the interruption.

Good teammates make a deliberate effort to stay connected to the rest of their team during periods of separation. They are proactive in preventing time and distance from diminishing their teams’ connectedness. Good teammates understand that connected teams become successful teams.

Here are ten ways to stay connected to your teammates during a prolonged hiatus:

1. Like, love, and share their social media posts. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or any of the other forums, social media has become an outlet for self-expression. Liking someone’s post is the modern-day equivalent of extending a compliment. The appearance of a thumbs up or heart icon validates their presence in your life and lets them know you are paying attention.

2. Text/email them. You don’t have to send anything in depth. A simple message letting them know you were thinking about them will suffice. Receiving a “TAU” (Thinking About U) message can be surprisingly ingratiating.

3. Send handwritten notes. This idea may be old-fashioned and a little unusual, but that’s precisely why it works. People don’t get messages via snail mail the way they once did which makes getting a card unique. Who doesn’t enjoy being made to feel unique? Not sure what to include in your card? Send a TAU message or draw a doodle inside the card. What you send isn’t as important as the novelty of you sending it.

4. Call/Facetime/Skype/Zoom. Written messages are good, but they are void of tone, inflections, and body language. Making the extra effort to sometimes communicate though audio or video allows you to more accurately convey your emotions and reminds the recipient of what a conversation with you is like.

5. Share a photo of a good memory. Communication does not have to be limited to conversations and written messages. Sharing a photo of a good memory can also be an effective way to maintain a connection with your teammates. Photos of good memories elicit emotional responses. Shared emotional responses bond individuals.

6. Share a meme from a movie/TV show you both like. Memes or short clips from movies or television programs you watched with your teammates evoke emotional responses, too—especially if they cause people to LOL Funny memes bring back good memories and take advantage of the bonding power of laughter.

7. Share a meal photo. Seeing photos of what others are eating for lunch can grow tiresome. But when you formally ate lunch every day with that person, it’s nice to feel like you’re being kept in the loop. And for similar reasons as the previous two entries, seeing an occasional meal photo may conjure mutual feelings of nostalgia.

8. Describe a dream or goal you have. Anything that conveys what you envision the future will be like after you are reunited is beneficial. Describing a dream or a goal in detail compels others to think about the future and fosters hope. You inspire your teammates when you discuss your excitement for the future.

9. Reveal a mistake you recently made. Portraying a prosperous online image isn’t incredibly difficult to do. But what about what’s happening outside of the camera frame? Ironically, masking your flaws can discourage your teammates. If they are experiencing challenges, the prosperous image you’re projecting may deter them from sharing their experiences. Revealing a recent mistake shows you’re human. Exposing your vulnerability can endear you to your teammates.

10. Acknowledge their milestones. This suggestion may be listed last but make it an absolute priority. Failing to recognize a teammate’s birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion will be perceived as more than a slight. If a milestone is important to your teammate, it should be important to you. People remember who congratulated them on their achievements, who wished them happy birthday, and who offered condolences on their loved one’s passing. But they also remember who did not—and they aren’t nearly as connected to those who did not.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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