Our transatlantic flight was delayed. As it became clear that they were going to miss connections at the other end, many passengers grew agitated and angry.
A couple sitting nearby were an exception to the storm of indignance and fury that raged around us. In the calmest of tones, they discussed the facts of the situation.
Acknowledging the problems they would face at the other end of the flight, they decided on a couple of actions to take on arrival. They reassured each other that they had faced challenges like this in the past, and that everything had always turned out just fine.
Then they sat back and settled in to enjoy the flight. I admired both their composure and their approach.
No matter where you may be or what you may be doing, plans will change and problems will arise. At any given moment – at work, at home, out in the community, or on the road – life can flip you upside down or take a sharp left turn leaving you wondering what’s next and how you’ll manage.
I have noted, though, that during unsettling and overwhelming times people cope best when they connect with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, things are going to be all right.
We long to be reassured that we can weather the storm and find our way through. And, it’s so much easier if you don’t have to go it alone.
To that end, here are a dozen strategies that you can use to play a more reassuring role in the lives of your colleagues, friends and family:
- Cultivate calm and steadiness in yourself so you are able to listen and speak from a grounded presence. Breathe. Settle down. Make your own peace with the situation.
- Actively attend to the state and concerns of others. When people are seen and heard, they feel reassured that they’re not alone and that their wellbeing does matter to others.
- Get the facts. Review what you know and what you don’t. Harsh truths may be hard to hear and tough to share; but it’s much healthier to deal with truths in the light than rumors in the dark.
- Where action is called for, help people plan and take those doable first steps.
- If it’s within your power, equip people with resources and information to use in tackling the tasks ahead. Introduce them to strategies that will help them stay steady as they go.
- Point out any signs of progress. Draw attention to small shifts in positive directions.
- Share stories from the past that highlight resilience – examples of how you or they may have faltered but prevailed in the end.
- Share reminders of the benefits of weathering the storm. Recap the overall intention and reinforce the big picture.
- Encourage and model self-care. Make room for time-outs in the midst of the madness. Don’t postpone those moments of peace to some hazy point in a far distant future.
- Highlight the humor in the situation – bleak or otherwise. Laugh freely and often to foster the deep release that comes from sharing a grin and a chuckle.
- Check back and check in with a frequency that keeps you current with the state of mind of those you’re supporting.
- As the future unfolds, express confidence in their abilities and pride in their undertakings.
Put these strategies to work more often and you will model the reassurance that is needed to help others stay the course, navigate the turns, and enjoy the journey.
© Patricia Katz, MCE CHRP HoF, is a Canadian speaker and author who works with organizational leaders to ease the load and fuel the spirit. This best selling author of 6 books shares her wisdom weekly with thousands of readers of her e-zine, Pause. Sign up for Pause, and learn more about easing your load here on this site. Contact Pat for programs and publications at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-728-5289.