Dealing with Emotional Overwhelm

Shawnee Love   •   July 22, 2020

If you are noticing unusual emotions and behaviours among your employees, you aren’t alone.  The uncertainty and fear of the last quarter and the pandemic are bubbling over and wreaking havoc in workplaces, perhaps within yours as well.

Yes, we still need to give each other a little grace.  In fact, giving grace and space has pretty much been a mantra of mine since March 21st, when the reality of the situation started sinking in.

At the same time, as leaders of people, your people are looking to you to lead. And in the current work environment, expectations of leaders include more than simply setting a vision and modelling behaviours such as work ethic, quality, appreciation and growth.  It also means showing kindness and compassion in the face of the overwhelming feelings people are experiencing (such as irritation, confusion, frustration, anxiety, depression and even anger).

These feelings can be difficult to recognize at first because they are hidden under:

  • Snappish comments,
  • Heated arguments,
  • Slamming doors,
  • Sick days,
  • Grievances,
  • Whispered conversations that stop when you come in the room,
  • Charged silence,
  • Rolled eyes,
  • Turned backs, and
  • Personal criticism.

As leaders, when we observe or receive reports about these kinds of things, we are responsible for addressing them and that means

  1. Ensuring they are stopped, and
  2. Preventing from happening them again in the future.

However, there are a lot of ways to correct a situation and with the knowledge that we are in challenging times and people are struggling individually and collectively, comes the responsibility to inquire first.

It’s why I love the Covey quote:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

This quote is a constant reminder to ask your people what may be going on for them. Not only is it the right thing to do, we have a duty to inquire and in doing so, to ensure they are able (physically, mentally and emotionally) to do the work we have for them.

Thus, it’s ok to kindly acknowledge current behaviour which seems out of character, particularly when it is followed by an offer to assist, or a question of how you can help, if they are ok or is there anything going on for them right now.

If you come from a place where you care (and you show it), and it is clear this line of questioning is with their best interests at heart, then they may confide in you.

A burden shared is lighter and our people need to know we support them.  Hopefully if you have been following our blogs, you have been using some of the tools and resources available for people who are struggling.

If you need support handling a challenging people situation, we are just a call (778-754-5683) or email away.