Supporting Colleagues at Times of Challenge
When our colleagues are suffering, it’s natural to want to help ease their burden and surround them with care, concern and advice. However, with this current crisis, many of the concerns we have cannot be solved, at least not yet. There are just too many moving parts and unknowns. So what’s a well-intentioned colleague or mentor to do?
Here are a few tips to consider when trying to support a colleague who is struggling.
In processing a challenging situation, what people really want is:
- A sounding board, to suss things out, to vent
- To articulate their worries and concerns
- To be seen and heard and have their feelings validated
- Validation that they made the right choice
- To know you believe in them and their own empowerment
Keep in Mind
- Empathy is more important than solutions
- When you don’t know what to say, just listen, it’s more supportive than you realize
- They want comfort.
- People don’t necessarily remember what you say or do, they remember how you made them feel. It buoys them.
- Let them know you are willing to be in the company of their distress
- Ask them if there’s anything you can do that won’t make things feel worse?
- A lot of their challenges can’t be solved, try to help them divide their issues into categories of what can be changed and what cannot
- Brainstorm the areas that can be changed
- Help them come to terms with things they cannot control
A Word on Advice
- Be careful about providing well intentioned guidance, it can land like criticism. This is often not the time to give advice.
- They need to process and be in a better head space.
- After listening, show empathy.
- Provide a vote of confidence
- You’ve been through this before
- This is tough but you are too
- Take note of their strengths
- If they are still looking for a resolution, ask them what would be most helpful, right now? If they ask for advice now is the time to provide insights but be sure it’s what they want first.