Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence? by Patricia Katz

Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence?

During unsettling and overwhelming times, people cope best when they connect with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, things are going to be all right.

No matter where you may be or what you may be doing, plans will change and problems will arise. At any given moment, life can flip you upside down or take a sharp left turn leaving you wondering what’s next and how you’ll manage.

In the face of setbacks, excessive workloads, and overwhelming expectations, we need reassurance, and we need it delivered in more than an off-hand, band-aid sort of way.

In the workplace, colleagues need us to acknowledge their distress and express confidence that somehow we’ll get through this together – that we’ll be all right.

All right doesn’t mean perfect or stress-free. The present may well be painful, the road forward rocky, and the outcome less than ideal. All right means that we trust we’ll have the resilience to make it through, and the strength to deal with whatever comes up.

The most helpful form of reassurance is far more than a blithe and condescending: “There there, you poor thing. It’ll all be better soon.” Instead, it comes from a deep sense of presence, a genuine understanding, and compassionate expression.

To that end, here are a dozen strategies that you can use to play a more reassuring role in the lives of your colleagues (and friends and family, too):

  1. Cultivate calm and steadiness in yourself so you are able to listen and speak from a grounded presence. Breathe. Settle down. Make your own peace with the situation.
  1. Actively attend to the state and concerns of others. When people are seen and heard, they feel reassured that they’re not alone and that their wellbeing does matter to others.
  1. Get the facts. Review what you know and what you don’t. Harsh truths may be hard to hear and tough to share; but it’s much healthier to deal with truths in the light than rumors in the dark.
  1. Where action is called for, help people plan and take those doable first steps.
  1. If it’s within your power, equip people with resources and information to use in tackling the tasks ahead. Introduce them to strategies that will help them stay steady as they go.
  1. Point out any signs of progress. Draw attention to small shifts in positive directions.
  1. Share stories from the past that highlight resilience – examples of how you or they may have faltered but prevailed in the end.
  1. Share reminders of the benefits of weathering the storm. Recap the overall intention and reinforce the big picture.
  1. Encourage and model self-care. Make room for time-outs in the midst of the madness. Don’t postpone those moments of peace to some hazy point in a far distant future.
  1. Highlight the humor in the situation – bleak or otherwise. Laugh freely and often to foster the deep release that comes from sharing a grin and a chuckle.
  1. Check back and check in with a frequency that keeps you current with the state of mind of those you’re supporting.
  1. As the future unfolds, express confidence in their abilities and pride in their undertakings.

Put these strategies to work more often and you will model the reassurance that is needed to help others stay the course, navigate the turns, and enjoy the journey.

© In her work as a Well-Being Strategist, Patricia Katz, MCE CHRP, supports leaders in creating organizations where people thrive and know they matter. – 877-728-5289

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