We all have our own personal lives, history and roots, experiences, needs and values. We also react to situations differently and we have our own ways to cope with it. We are all different and there is not just one right way, but many ways. One can find it easier to follow the news actively, the other wants to limit their exposure to better cope with the situation. And this is very important to remember when we deal with other people, with our colleagues at work. Every employee, whatever his/her background is, should feel safe, equal and appreciated at the workplace. This calls from each and every one of us empathy and respect.
As this kind of an exceptional situation is a true crisis situation, it is very much okay to feel strong feelings, whatever those feelings are. It is also important to understand that this kind of a situation and the feelings arising, can influence our ability to work, to concentrate and to act. It might be the feelings directly influencing or you might struggle in finding a meaning for your work, when other people are suffering and fighting for their lives.
For many people, especially in an international workplace where some of the people are working in a foreign country, the workplace can play a very important role as a safe haven. A place, where a person can feel to be part of something, feel the social support and have a chance to talk with someone. The power of the workplace is that we are not alone. Additionally, the workplace can bring us continuity and structure to our daily lives. Therefore it is important to try to keep up together the daily routines, tasks and targets. This supports our sense of control and security that is easily threatened in such a crisis situation. At the same time it is good to show understanding and flexibility in work assignments and working hours if someone has difficulties to cope with the situation. Recognizing individual needs shows that we take care of everyone at work.
How can we all support each other to cope with the crisis situation
1) Provide an opportunity/ place for joint discussion
o Conversation and speaking up acts as an important stress reliever
o Remember, however, that no one is obliged to take part, as one may find discussion helpful, while the other wants to limit their exposure as a means of coping with the situation
2) Show empathy and respect – be present, listen and take care of others
o Remind yourself to do this on the terms of another, not from your own needs
o Avoid assumptions or interpretations, ask instead
o Remember to give space, if you notice that the other person needs that
3) Think about and plan ways of influencing – what can we do as individuals and what can be done together
o A good way to influence is to help (through charities, donating goods, etc.) – which can well be done together -> concrete collaboration acts also as a good stress reliever
4) Communicate as openly and transparently as possible – no one has to guess anything
o Sometimes it is even better to say that I don’t know than say nothing
5) Lower the threshold for professional help when needed, and recognize individual needs
We are stronger together!