- Posted by jwp_institute
- On April 23, 2020
- 0 Comments
In our last blog, we kicked off a new series to support you during this time of global turbulence. As we rush to respond to this novel pandemic, leaders must stay grounded, calm, and supportive of their team members. You must take care of yourself first so that you can show up ready to offer kindness and clarity to the rest of your team. We all struggle in unique ways, and it isn’t always apparent to others what internal struggle someone is experiencing. Allowing more room in your team’s work environment for flexibility, introspection, reflection, and laughter can help individuals decompress and re-center themselves. Make time to follow up with your colleagues, even when it’s just a quick text or email to say, “I’m thinking about you.”
Respond like a Crisis Professional
Crises are scary and stressful because the path forward is often dangerous and unknown to us. There are obstacles, surprises, and unexpected sacrifices that stand in our way. Yet times of crisis are opportunities to strengthen ourselves in astonishing ways that build resilience and confidence. I recently asked my daughter Caitlin, who is a crisis therapist, for her insights on how professionals navigate crisis successfully, and what advice she would give to leaders in the time of coronavirus.
First off, people who work in crisis positions know they can’t panic. Once you panic, you stop thinking clearly, and your nervous system moves into trauma responses like fight, flight, and freeze. These reptilian responses may help you fight off an intruder or run from danger, but they aren’t going to help you to devise a smart strategy for survival or to mitigate harm. To avoid panicking, Caitlin recommends staying objective and grounded to your purpose and task at hand. She says it can be helpful to tell yourself, “I can freak out later, but right now, I have a job to do.”
According to research on post-traumatic stress disorder, there are long term benefits to having a job to focus on during a crisis. People who have a purpose in a traumatic situation are less likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the future.
Validate your Emotions
Even in a crisis scenario, it can be necessary to take time to recognize your emotional state. Sometimes we need to do this in the middle of our day, and other times it can wait until after the day is over. The way that people do this can look different. For some, it’s an internal and private process, and other people need to process their emotional state with others through conversation. The people on my daughter’s team will often de-brief a crisis once it’s over, and check-in with each other to see how they are doing. Therapists typically touch base with their supervisors once a week to help process the cases they are working on and the traumatic stress they take on. I would encourage you to start checking in with the members of your team frequently to see how they are doing and if they need more support and to make time to recognize your own emotional state more regularly as well.
Find a Positive Reframe
Finally, Caitlin recommends finding ways to re-frame negative situations and experiences so that they are strengths-based. This doesn’t mean thinking away a hardship with the power of positive thinking. Instead, it means acknowledging a challenge and also finding a positive way forward from it. This pandemic is isolating, scary, and unknown, yet it is also highlighting what is most important to us and pushing us to find new coping strategies and skills that will serve us for years to come. Start getting curious about the positive re-frames you can make in your life. With practice, it will become more accessible and natural for you to make positive re-frames, and soon you won’t even have to remind yourself to do it anymore, it will just become second nature.
In my next blog, we’ll talk about ways for your team to stay connected and motivated remotely. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and until next time, be well.