Grieving in the Workplace

Grieving in the Workplace

Lots of people I know seem to be dealing loss in its various forms right now!  I found this very wise advice from the Alberta Learning Information Service and thought the time might be right to pass it on! 

Grieving in the Workplace: Coping With Loss

Grief is the process of dealing with loss and it is a normal part of life.

Many kinds of loss can affect your performance at work or that of your colleagues: divorce, retirement, job loss, failure of a project and so on. This tip sheet focuses on grief following the loss of a loved one. The suggestions will help you cope with your own loss or support a bereaved co-worker.

Understanding grief and its effects

Many of us experience powerful emotions when we’re grieving. The stages of grief are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance, which may eventually move an individual into healing or growth. Because grief is a very individual experience, we may not experience all stages or we may go through them in a different order.

We can’t attach a timeline to grief—many signs of grief may not appear until weeks or months after the loss. The circumstances of the death and the depth of our connection to the individual can affect our emotional response and the time we need to grieve. For example, a grieving co-worker who seems to be coping well may burst into tears during a meeting many months after a loved one’s death….

You can read the rest of this post at this link http://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=11611

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Redundancy and the Family – it is change for them too!

In my last post, I described how difficult things at home are now for Dave.

Changes in life like redundancy affect us all deeply. They change us and they change our relationships. Redundancy is like bereavement and can leave you with the same gut-wrenching sense of loss, the furious “why me?”. Everyone says it’s not personal, but of course it feels that way to the one who has lost their job.

But that sense of loss isn’t just felt by us, it is felt by those close to us as well. Their lives have been changed and probably in ways they would never have chosen for themselves.

Sometimes in mass redundancies you can turn that anger outwards and on to the employer or the perceived cause of the problems for example the Bankers. Then the group binds together against the world.

If a whole community is facing difficulty, there is likely to be lots of support from within that community – think of the pit villages in the North East of England between the thirties and the seventies. Under siege you pull together. But most of us live in communities without that kind of tradition.

Dave’s wife has made a life for herself at home. Now change is being forced on her and, of course, she will resist it and be shocked by it. Dave probably felt the same when he realised he wasn’t needed any more at work. Now his wife is frightened!

Anyone who has spent a long period at home feels quite daunted by the prospect of going out to work again. And she is worried that life probably never will be the same again!

So she is in pain too and she has to deal with a whole mix of conflicting and confusing feelings. This may include feelings of resentment towards Dave. It feels as if he has brought this down on them even though he has not chosen to do so! So she feels guilty too!

In these circumstances most counsellors and coaches will tell you to share your concerns with each other. But this can be very hard to do.

Sitting down opposite each other over the kitchen table can end up being very confrontational. Sometimes, it is better to start talking when you are both facing the same way and maybe doing something else. How about going for a walk together or just for a drive. What about when you are sitting together on the sofa watching TV, but not when anyone’s favourite programme is on!

It helps if you can both admit you feel rotten and miserable about what has happened – Dave has lost a job and both are in danger of losing a life style.

Share the misery – you are in it together.

Try talking about it and really seeing it from each other’s perspective. Don’t pretend it isn’t grim for you both. Share it and then start to work together to manage it. Neither of you is responsible for this and neither should feel guilty.

Sometimes when the feelings just overwhelm you, it helps to write get it all down in a letter. When you have finished, put what you have written to one side. Decide later, when you feel calm, whether to send or destroy it.

If the anger and the depression continue, talk to your doctor or find a counsellor because these are signs you need some outside help.

Above all acknowledge the change for both of you and that both of you are suffering loss. It is not about whose loss is greater. If you can, start to work for and not against each other! You can be a team again, I’m sure!

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

  • 31st May 2011 What’s up with Dave? (leavingthepublicsector.net) 
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Are you going to listen to me? The delicate art of communication! Giving bad news!

This week my posts are going to be about Communication and I start here with how to give the bad news – in this case seriously bad news, for example, about redundancy.

About a year ago I published a version of the post below!  It has been one of the most popular items on this site!

I started my working life as a nurse.  In those days we were given no preparation for giving bad news.  I can still remember feeling totally undone by the prospect of having to tell a young husband that his wife had died!  I was the only person there to give the message.  I did my best but to this day, I know that I could have done it better! I still remember every moment of the encounter with that poor man! So here is the advice which is now usually given to medical students in the UK and I believe nurses in training receive similar advice! It can be equally useful in the workplace.  Don’t under estimate the sense of loss and pain that accompanies news of redundancy!

“THE DELICATE ART OF GIVING BAD NEWS
This post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’

I covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Bad news often comes as a shock, even if it is expected!  The reality and the details may be very hard to bear!  There is, and should be, a lot more to it than just saying or writing the words!

If you want to ensure there is the best possible outcome then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message itself well!

Preparing

Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to have the meeting?  Where you sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you wear is important, if the news is seriously bad.  If you have to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email! You will need to think about how you are going to follow up and provide an opportunity to handle questions

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.

Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance, if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact so that you can pass a name and telephone number onto the individual?

The worst thing you can do when giving bad news, is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes, if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation before the meeting, and how to deal with them!  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.

It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Don’t let your feelings weigh on the listener!

Following-up

After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on that name and contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.

At the very least you will want to make sure they understood what you told them and that they can respond to it as necessary. Then you may want to allow them some time alone! Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!”

I would very much welcome your own tips on handling bad news and to hear your own experiences

I hope to publish the next post in this series on Communication on Wednesday 2nd March 2011