Reevaluate Your Communication Practices with Colleagues NOW!
Here Are 8 Questions to Consider.
August offered you the opportunity to understand the power of mindfulness. This simple (but far from easy) practice of kindly inviting your mind back to the present is an essential self-care staple for this current moment in history. And the timing couldn’t be better! When the future is as uncertain and murky as it now is, the present is the best place to be! But if we allow our “monkey brain” to focus instead on that future uncertainty, our emotions can splatter are all over the place!
Were some of my tips to embrace your present helpful as you’re managing the constant undertow of anxiety? The crazy thing about anxiety is that we each experience it in a unique manner. Connecting with my senses has saved me from a few spinouts this past week alone! For as much as my self-care habits and practices have served me during my stretch of over-work during these last six months, I’m clearly on the edge of burnout. I’m excited to use this traditional vacation week to refresh before 2020’s home stretch comes knocking.
Now’s The Time To Realign and Redesign.
Now is a cyclically organic time to reconnect with those in your work orbit and revisit the efficacy of your communication practices. After all, it’s been SIX MONTHS since many teams began working remotely, practically overnight! We were expecting to live out of a suitcase for a couple of weeks until things blew over (as was the adventurous spirit of my neighbors’ kids embracing a 5-day power outage by camping in the backyard!) Since it appears that our brief inconvenience has morphed into an alternative workplace paradigm for the foreseeable future, take advantage of this moment to realign and redesign.
Miscommunication is a Prolonged Pandemic Sidekick.
At the sudden start of this pandemic, there was a sense of unity and alignment. Some of my clients even felt more seen and heard by their colleagues at the start of “shelter in place”. For others, there were far too many junk food lunches and virtual happy hours. As the episode progressed, many nuances of connection became dulled and even lost. Assumptions get made and conclusions get drawn with an undercurrent of potential misinformation. Plus, the danger of in-person encounters has many of us petrified to move into the “next phase” (Do the words “back-to-school” send a chill of anxiety through your body?) What’s more, many managers and leaders have grown kids, not understanding the true hardships faced by parents who are managing young kids at home.
And kids aren’t the only stressors. Each one of us is fighting a great personal battle at this moment. Isolation has worn the nerves of some, while unreliable Wi-Fi has become an amygdala trigger for others. Those with elderly loved ones or relatives in virus hot spots are surely on-edge. Anyone with germaphobia, people who had mild anxiety disorders even before the pandemic— we could all use a little therapy at this point!
So I invite you to start off the post-Labor Day season having a candid conversation with your colleagues— whether it be as a team, individually with your direct reports or with the person to whom you report. Regardless of the composition of this conversation, the goal is to realign your communication expectations and ways of working with those you rely upon.
Here are some questions that wellness specialist and my cherished thought partner Mike Gomez and I discussed during a recent brainstorm. Consider scheduling a virtual “coffee talk” with your team and weave a few questions that resonate into the conversation:
- What is working well for you in your new work situation/ environment?
- What are the obstacles you’ve been encountering?
- How has your workday changed after acclimating to working from home?
- Are you able to work uninterrupted during traditional work hours, or have you had to adjust your workday to overcome the realities of your home situation?
- How can we work more efficiently as a team, support each other optimally, and communicate effectively?
- How can we be more explicit about expectations and deliverables?
- How can we better plan for a longer runway toward deadlines so people who are working during unconventional hours can meet those deadlines? (level-setting expectations of the realities of working from home)
- How can I gain a better understanding of what you’re going through, so I can support you?
Conversations are at the heart of culture, and they are more important now than ever. We know that blind spots occur from a neuroscientific perspective when we’re managing great stress, fear and uncertainty. We continue to contend with challenges, out of sight from others, feeling compelled to put on a smile and a “can do” attitude in front of the camera. But what happens when the movie set around you may be falling apart?
Consider some additional questions you’d like to explore with your team, and jump in!
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