How Can You Help Others Handle Loss?

What is My Role?

Recently, I have been very aware of the impact of loss on family members, clients and friends who have lost loved ones or learned of a terminal illness.  While I knew this was an inevitable part of life, I struggled to understand my role in these situations.  In some cases, it was to provide comfort in a very personal way.  In others, it was to offer a prayer that comfort would be provided by someone else.

 

Five Stages of Grief

Have you wondered how to help a friend or colleague who has suffered a loss and is dealing with profound sadness, confusion and fear of what lies ahead? You may be familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

They point out that not everyone goes through all five stages and may not experience them in this order, but it can be useful to have some idea of what to expect.  The website grief.com has good suggestions for what to say and do.

 

It’s Not About Me

One thing I have learned is that focusing on the other person rather than myself helps us both.  I invite you to keep that in mind when someone you know is grieving.

Recipe for Success: ASK for What You Need

In a recent team building session, the participants said they really enjoyed learning more about their colleagues, but they also appreciated understanding themselves better and they really valued the opportunity to practice what I call the recipe for success – asking for what you need.

Accept Responsibility for Getting What You Need

Whether coaching an executive or working with a team, my message is the same:  learn what you need and ask for it.  It can be really hard for high achievers to admit that they need something from someone else, but no one succeeds in a vacuum and we can’t expect others to read our minds.

Specifics Help You Tell Others What You Need

Most people are willing to help their colleagues, and being specific makes that easier.  If you need more time to reflect on a complex issue and you are being pressured to make a decision quickly, you could explain, “I can give you an answer now or I can give you a better answer at noon tomorrow.”

Know What Contributes to Your Success

You may be a very team-oriented person who also needs to have your individual efforts recognized.  Your colleagues are probably not aware of this need because your usual behavior doesn’t give them a clue.  This makes it especially important for you to let your boss and key colleagues know that you are a lot more productive when you are able to measure and receive feedback on your performance.

Now that you have the recipe for success – whip up something good!

Don’t Push Me!

My trainer kept saying, “Come on, you can do this!” even though I told him my foot wasn’t rehabbed enough for jumping.  The more he insisted, the more resistant I became.  I will push myself pretty hard, but not to the point of potentially doing damage.

How Much is Too Much?

Because he wasn’t getting it I questioned my own approach to pushing my coaching clients beyond their comfort zone. It is one of the toughest things I have to do, but discomfort is sometimes necessary to stimulate behavior change.

Stretch Without Breaking

Leaders also have to find the right balance when pushing their team members.  The best way to provide challenges that will stretch people without breaking them is to invest the time to learn:

  • What motivates the person
  • What de-motivates them

Where to Start?

A personality assessment like the Birkman is a great starting point, so let me know if you would like to explore how to add this to your leadership toolkit.

Stuck Like Glue

If you are a country music fan you might know Jennifer Nettles’ song, “Stuck Like Glue” that goes, “Some days I don’t feel like trying.  Some days you know I wanna just give up.”   That song has been stuck in my head since a conversation with a close friend who is also a coach.

 

Let Me Count the Ways

My friend was describing all the areas in her life where she is stuck:  doing work she has do instead of work she wants to do; trying to decide on the status of a relationship; being frustrated with adult children who don’t have time for their mom; arranging care for aging parents.

 

How Do I Get Unstuck?

Of course, I had to ask her a coaching question: if you’re feeling stuck in all those areas, where do you need to let go? (Sometimes even we coaches need help seeing the obvious.) It was the jolt she needed to realize that she was trying too hard to control and manage everything and everybody around her.  I can empathize with that.

 

Just Give Up

So when you’re feeling stuck like glue to a situation that is causing frustration or anxiety, just give up and stop trying to control everything.

That is So Stupid!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong

How many times a day do we think or say, “That is so stupid!”? The statement infers that we are smarter than someone else, that we are right and they are wrong.  That attitude makes it impossible to find common ground in conflict resolution.

 

Where is that Getting Us?

This issue came up with two of my clients recently so I challenged them to come up with a non-judgmental word to substitute for “stupid.”  It wasn’t easy letting go of that powerful feeling of being right, but they were each frustrated enough with the lack of progress in resolving their differences with colleagues that they agreed to work on it.

 

This is Smart!

The exercise enabled my clients to see things from the other person’s perspective, and that helped them move forward.  How about you?  Are you ready to try a new approach to achieving your objectives?  If so, I invite you to consider an issue from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.  That’s not stupid; it’s smart!

How do You Slice an Apple?

Have you ever stopped to consider how many things do you do without thinking?  I have always sliced an apple with the small end down, even though it tends to wobble.  Recently, my apple rolled over and I realized how much easier it is to slice it with the large end down.

Who Taught You?

I suppose my mother taught me to slice it that way and I never considered doing it differently.  When you think about the people who taught you about being a leader, who comes to mind?  What made the good ones effective and the bad ones hard to forget?  How did they shape your leadership style?

Is There a Better Way?

In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith reminds us to ask, “How am I doing?” on a regular basis.  The answers tell us what we need to continue doing and what we need to reconsider.  Are there some things you have been doing so long that you no longer pay attention to whether they are effective?

Adding Too Much Value

Of the 20 habits Goldsmith lists in his book, one of the most common I see in my executive coaching clients is adding their two cents to every discussion.  Your team isn’t very likely to be motivated by a leader who says, “That’s a good idea but…”  If you wonder whether this is an issue for you, ask someone you trust.

Like the apple, I invite you to turn your leadership style upside down and see if you need to slice it differently.