How honest conversations can and will change your organizational culture for the better.

Posted online
Feeling overwhelmed this week?
 
It’s important to remind yourself that we are living and leading in surreal times; we are leading during a pandemic; we are leading during what will be known as a historical period, in which we are bravely and unapologetically standing for and demanding liberty and justice for all; and leading during a political season considered to be one of the most, if not the most, divisive and polarized.
 
We know all too well that the world we live in, and the impact it then has on humanity, directly affects our businesses and our communities.
 
We cannot single-handedly control the events of the world and society in which we live. What we always do have within our reach though is the manner in which we build and foster relationships, how we lead our teams, how we support our teams and support each other. Our quality and investment in relationships and how we lead directly affects our resilience, our ability to respond and cope with the world and societal events.
 
Many say:
 
"People are struggling. What can we do to support our staff/our teams?"
 
and
 
"Everyone is so angry…Why are people so angry?"
 
The response to both—whether we are talking about suicide, depression, anxiety, inequity, discrimination, racism, or any “ism” for that matter, or something in between—involves honest conversations.
 
Honest conversations are critical to achieving effective, productive, and healing outcomes.
 
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as a resilient, inspirational, and transformational leader:
 
Our survival states, all of our survival states, have been hard at work for over four months. While our survival states are built to keep us alive, they are not intended to remain on high alert for such long periods of time and there does not seem to be a clear “end date” in sight. People are exhausted, we are exhausted. Lead with grace.
 
Honest conversations communicate that you as a leader and as an organization, are in tune, care, and either understand or are committed to learning to understand.
 
In order for honest conversations to happen, people must feel safe, connected, respected, and significant.
 
Remain mindful that behavior is a critical form of communication – and what is important is what is underneath that behavior, driving that behavior. When you notice new and different behavior, be curious – be sensitive yet overt in acknowledging and trying to understand the behavior.
 
Here are some additional tips to help you get started:
 
  • Did you know that one of the most effective ways to reduce suicide is by caring enough to have an honest conversation with someone who shows new and different behavior?
  • Did you know that anger is about injustice, anxiety is about uncertainty, fear is about danger, and disappointment about unmet expectations?
  • When you notice behavior and ask about how the person is doing, be willing to take the time needed to understand and support, especially when a person answers with anything other than “fine”.
  • Don’t stop at judgment of the behavior and don’t assume you know what is underneath the behavior.
  • Remain curious and committed to understanding and connecting.
  • Listen to understand rather than to respond or to fix. Don’t correct, don’t fix, don’t swoop in a try to make something lighter or better. A response does not fix a situation, connection is what heals. Instead of correcting and fixing, validate. Such as, “that sounds really hard,” or “that sounds frustrating.” In the Brene Brown article provided in the resources, she uses the example “I don’t know what to say, but I’m just really glad you told me.”

We hope the Be Well for Business series has been helpful for you as you work and lead through these times. If you would like to learn more or continue the conversation, we invite you to explore having Dr. Farnan present a "Be Well" experience to your teams. In these sessions led by Dr. Farnan, employees will learn about mental health wellness, coping skills and how to be well through the ups and down of life. Please contact Director of Marketing Jana Greig to learn more.