I was recently having some discussions with some of our new staff about Lakeside’s values. We discussed how we are committed to managing our own emotions in healthy ways as well as the having the mindfulness to be attuned and aware of others’ emotions that are in our sphere of influence. If we are going to be emotionally intelligent in our relationships even as managers of those we work with we will need a very balanced perspective on work and personal issues.
We discussed that we have often been taught by our organizations, leaders and systems that emotions do not belong in the workplace. However, we recognize that to be authentic and balanced in our perspective with those we work with, emotions and life circumstances are significant and have impact on our ability to perform. Often, we attempt to deny that balance and wonder why we struggle in our work and relationships within our organizations.
As I started to talk about that issue, I reflected on the life situations of those that are in my orb and under my supervision. I immediately was able to identify marital struggles, family struggles, health struggles, financial struggles, suicide, depression, and several other significant issues that are true realities of what people are working through and processing. It brought to reality that the person in the hallway, in the next office and in our building are facing dilemmas that are confusing, difficult, and sometimes life-dominating.
If we truly believe that organizations are made up of normal people that have the full orb of life experiences and emotions, we must honor their processes and understand that work environments can be a place of valuable support. That kind of group network allows us to feel some connection to people who care for our life and families. It is not helpful for us all to live in denial of those situations but to embrace them carefully, in mindfulness and compassion.
This is not to say that work should be a constant counseling or processing session. I don’t find that staff members really want that because they are very responsible about getting their work and tasks done. However an organization that gives permission for people to reflect on life accurately while working diligently becomes a place of hope, loyalty, connection and safety.
I often think with all of the privacy emphasis, we might not feel the permission to be ourselves and be open to simply care for those situations that staff members are carrying with them consistently. As I lead this discussion, I discovered that people felt that they did not have permission to care for others because of personal privacy. However, how can we help those around us be good stewards of their emotions if we don’t even know what they are?
I realize we all need to be careful, sensitive, and non-invasive so people can choose what they share. I also realize we live in a world full of chaos and our co-workers need safe places to express their feelings. If we are not attuned and aware to those moments, they will be insecure or downright uncomfortable to share why they may be having a difficult day. Processing it briefly without judgement can be a great way to support and mobilize our co-workers to connect, relate, do their tasks, and feel empowered by their work peers. It is not only an opportunity but a stewardship for all of us to be more humane in our organizations.