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As humans and professionals we are learning to adapt and work within this uncertain environment but all humans need some form of stability to be able to ride the rapids of change we are experiencing in all facets of life right now. Things definitely aren’t normal, though most haven’t reached what we might define as a “new normal” yet.  Here are four impactful ways to support each other in the workplace (and in other areas of life) as we continue to move through this ever-changing landscape.

Self-Care & Compassion – Yes, you’ve heard this before. It is the first thing in many articles, blogs and resources on how to manage through the pandemic. If you’ve heard it over and over, the question is, what are you doing to ensure you and those around you are getting the right amount and type of self-care needed right now? I’ve personally found that as some of my go-to methods became less available (acupuncture, dinner with friends) that I had to develop new methods of self-care. I also found that what worked pre-pandemic just wasn’t enough in the pandemic world.  The paradox was that with two elementary children at home, I didn’t have time to take on even more.  What I learned (the hard way) is that pandemic or no pandemic, this was the best first thing I could do for myself to enable me to be there for all those who needed me. Here are a few extra ideas if you are struggling to find self-care practices that work for you.

  • Take a walk outside daily
  • Meditate and breathe with this  free app .
  • Step away from “doing” in whatever way works for you at least twice a day (ideally every 60-90 minutes).
  • Call a friend or family member and take turns checking in with each other.
  • Watch or listen to something that makes you laugh!

Active Listening & Holding Space – The dichotomy of holding space is that it sometimes feels like you are doing nothing in our culture that is so used to tactics and productivity and yet holding space takes more energy than offering advice because it comes from a deeper place within us. The beauty is that holding space for another is one of the most healing things you can offer as well as receive from another. A few important things about holding space in these times.

  • Listen far longer than you talk
  • Resist offering ideas and solutions – just listen.
  • Be curious and ask open-ended questions that start with how, what, where and when.
  • Make time for this with your colleagues 3x more often than you did before the pandemic started.

Grieve Change & Utilize the Change Curve – I wrote earlier on the topic of the Change Curve. While life in our modern world is always full of change, our life since the pandemic started has amplified the amount and intensity of complex change coming our way. Allowing yourself to grieve certain endings and the change they bring (even if it ends up being positive change) is so important in these times of uncertainty and volatility.  As we make our way through the change curve, it is important to understand that while a team or group of people may be processing the same change event, most will not process it on the same time line.  In addition, given the inequitable impact of the pandemic on people, many will be processing different types of change simultaneously. Utilizing the change curve within teams and even family systems can be really helpful in finding common ground and validating people’s needs and feelings.  It can even help with productivity as there is better understanding where people are and what they need to continue moving forward.   Here are a few ways it can be used.

  • Show and explain the change curve and then ask people to place a dot or an x where they are at. MURAL is a great tool to use that enables this joint work to be done virtually. This will give you a visual picture of where people are and can open the door for honest and insightful communication.
  • Use the change curve in a similar way to understand people’s perceptions of where a department or the organization as a whole is at on the change curve. Inquire about different perceptions and brainstorm any additional strategies needed to help the organization move through changes.
  • Simply offer the change curve to people as a tool they can use to personally reflect and process where they are at. The number of unknowns, shifts in policies and strategies are arduous and the velocity of changes can feel confusing.  This simple tool allows people to take the time to gain self-awareness, perspective and compassion for the current situation.

The Check-In – This simple technique is one of the most powerful ways to support and connect with people. The check-in, as its name implies, is an intentional start to a gathering whereby each person is given the chance to speak and voice how they are doing. It can create room and space for all types of personalities to be heard and can help everyone understand the general tone and climate of the group. It also has great personal benefits of giving each person the chance to center and slow down for a second and gain some instant self-awareness.  The check-in can be used in multiple ways.

  • The check-in can be a one-word start to each meeting and gathering by simply asking each person to state one word that describes their state of my mind. When doing a quick check-in, my personal favorite is to ask people for one word that describes what they are thinking and one word that describes what they are feeling. It helps people slow down and get in touch with their body and sense into a deeper awareness.
  • The check-in is a fantastic technique to use in virtual environments – team meetings, virtual happy hours and more. It is one way to substitute the typical small talk and “water cooler” visits that occur when people are in the same location.
  • This easy technique can also be used at the end of meetings as a “check-out” to gather more than just action items, but to understand where people are at as they leave the gathering and truly close the meeting.

There may not be four easy steps to make everything better right now, but these four methods are impactful, meaningful and will help us get through these times together, in community.