8 Reasons Why We Need More Comfort in the Workplace
“I’m afraid to tell her. I have no idea how she’ll react. She might think less of me. I may not be considered for a promotion if she knows what I’m going through.” These are the words of a friend of mine, afraid to tell her boss that she is in the middle of a divorce and a custody fight. So what happens? She walks into work each day “faking it”. She puts on a brave face and fights through the day, afraid to show anyone what she is really dealing with.
In this case, this event is turning my friend’s life on it’s head and she is afraid to share it. In other cases, everyone is aware of the event but still fail to bring it up. In both cases, we are leaving those who are hurting with the impression that no one cares. They go home exhausted and feeling very isolated and alone.
This all feeds into the loneliness epidemic so many are talking about. In his recent feature in the Harvard Business Review, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy points out the risks to this epidemic: increase in depression, anxiety, heart disease and an overall reduction in our lifespan. The effects of loneliness can have the same effect on our bodies as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
All because we are failing at caring for each other.
It’s awkward. We’re busy.
Every single person you know has a problem you don’t know about. It could be financial, health, addiction, anxiety, stress ... the situations are endless. Comfort and support are even needed when you would never consider it being needed. Getting married and having babies are happy times in life that create an abundance of change which can be very isolating.
We are either heading into a crisis, in a crisis or coming out of a crisis. It’s just a fact of life. These circumstances mold and shape our lives. They change us. We require friends and support to get through them. To ignore this truth, is to ignore each of our life stories. We never go back to who we were before these life events happened.
Generally speaking, it is when we are struggling, that we are most open to connection. We need support. Without it we can’t dig out. So, if these are the times that we are most open to friendship and support, why aren’t we doing more to facilitate it? To use these times to grow relationships and teams and organizations and communities?
The workplace is now one of our main social settings. Gone are the days where the majority of us entertain at home, spend time in our neighborhood and socialize weekly at church. Even our home life has changed from family dinners and watching TV together on the couch to Uber Eats and Netflix. We have to recognize that many employees don’t have a personal life that can fill them back up.
We can’t give out what we don’t have. It’s very hard to be compassionate and caring on the phone or in person with your customers, patients or students, when you don’t feel it in your own heart.
According to leadership expert John Maxwell, the number one question on every employee’s mind regarding their workplace is not “Am I qualified to do this job"?”, it’s this: “Do they care about me?”.
People would prefer not to “fake it” at work anymore. And yet this is what we do. Afraid to share our struggles for fear of looking weak. And those around us afraid to “bring it up” for fear of making it worse.
Sometimes “self-help” is actually helping someone else. It’s counterintuitive actually, but it’s true. When we are there for others going through a rough time, we will end up helping not only them, but ourselves as well.
The thing about giving comfort is this: it’s a skill, it’s an action. And this intentional action can awaken the emotions of empathy and compassion, so critical in our workplace today. Employees want to be heard and supported. They want to feel like they are making a difference! When there is a focus on bringing comfort into the workplace, this can happen. Helping each other, helps each other. And this action of comfort can be learned in a series of practiced steps. It doesn’t have to be awkward.
Imagine a workplace where people look forward to coming because they feel support not only from the HR department, but their peers and bosses. Think their productivity increases? Yes it does.
There is a great saying out there…. “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care”.
Comfort on my friends, comfort on. 💜
Jen Marr is Founder & CEO of Inspiring Comfort LLC. Learn more about how you can comfort better at www.inspiringcomfort.com