As we go through our daily routines at work and home, things happen -- good things and not so good things. Some days it seems like you can't catch a break. The work keeps piling up and it feels like you're juggling priorities. If you’ve had three or four of the “not so good” things to happen in succession, it may cause you to shove your hands in your pockets, kick at the dirt and mutter – WHY ME?
It’s all too easy for many of us to fall into a victim mode or take on a “it’s me against the world,” stance, but I invite you to take a different approach. I invite you to develop a different mindset. When the big deal at work falls through or someone else gets the promotion, think positively about it and say – “it was meant to be, because greater is awaiting me.”
Many people who come to my organization for help or employment, have experienced hardships in life. Many times, they have lost hope and their mindset is in a sunken place. As an employer, you may have noticed the same issues with your employees. The sense that bad things are happening to us has been highlighted during the stress and strain of the pandemic.
Lost jobs, halted careers, and compromised health has led some people down a road of defeat and ultimately depression. So how do you as a supervisor or leader in your organization show compassion without going down the rabbit hole of getting "too personal" with your staff or co-workers?
You don’t. You are human. You open your eyes and acknowledge the hurt that they are displaying in front of you and you offer an ear to listen. That’s the first step.
If you notice that co-workers are down in the dumps or speaking negatively about their jobs or their lives, begin pointing out the positives in life. We tend to mirror what we see and hear. So, if you are surrounded by positive people and positive conversation, it tends to catch on.
Many years ago, I worked with a woman who complained constantly about everything and nearly everyone. She had a very negative mindset and believed that everyone was out to get her in some way. She would complain about the temperature in the office. It was either too cold or too hot. The lights were always too bright or not bright enough. She would go on and on.
Our desks sat right next to each other, so I began to combat every negative comment with a positive one. It took three or four months, but she began to complain less and less. Then one day, several of us in the office were in a discussion about some local news event that was negative and she offered a positive outlook on the situation. Everyone’s mouth dropped open and later they asked me what I had done to her. I was the only one in the office that talked to her on a regular basis, so they thought that I had said something to her about her constant complaining and negativity.
They were right. I didn’t confront her about her bad attitude, I simply returned every negative comment with a positive one to help her to look at things in a different light.
Sometimes, people just get stuck in a rut and they can’t imagine any other way to act.
Sometimes, the negativity goes much deeper than a bad attitude. It could be a chronic medical condition. In that case, you offer the resources available by your company, such as mental health counseling, time off from work (with pay, if possible), flexible work hours and/or location, if that will help with their condition or simply allow them the time to adjust to the changes in their lives.
In short, be as accommodating and compassionate as possible. You may need to bring in your Human Resources professional to speak with the person, and to insure that there is follow-through with the available resources.
You also want to assure that person that their conversation is confidential, except for those who have a need to know in order to provide the help that is needed, like your HR staff or counseling staff.
Finally, check in often with them to see how they’re feeling and doing, emotionally and physically. As a leader, it is your business to get in their business. Let them know that work and life happens, but they don’t have to face it alone. With your help they can regain control of their careers and their lives.