The Key Ingredient in Responding to Your Employees’ Emotional Needs During the Pandemic
Fear, frustration, sadness, uncertainty, downsizing, and layoffs may cause anxiety, isolation, and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research shows that when our anxiety increases, our attachment needs to be close to others are activated. These needs are expressed by internal dialog toward people we trust and depend on: Are you available for me? Can you reassure me? Do I matter?
The key factor that contributes to anxiety reduction is emotional responsiveness. Being emotionally responsive to others helps to promote safety, security, and a sense of connection in critical moments when the people you work with are feeling vulnerable and in need of support.
Emotional responsiveness is a way of relating to people at the moment. It is about understanding that behind the expressed anger and frustration is a concern, uncertainty, sadness, and possibly fear. It is about listening with your heart and offering unconditional understanding and acceptance. Emotional responsiveness lives in the present when people ask you for support.
Here is how it works:
Mark: Hey, you’re getting pretty snappy, but you seem worried.
Amy: I am worried about my team. I feel like this is going to really impact them, but it seems I am not able to do anything.
Mark: I can see that this is difficult for you. (Mark stays here for a moment.)
Amy: An understatement, I am paralyzed!
Mark: Amy, I hear you. I get that it’s not easy. I can see how much you care about them. I also know they care about you. It’s hard for you to see your team struggling.
Amy (face relaxes): Thanks, Mark.
In this conversation, Mark is emotionally responsive to Amy’s emotional needs. Research shows that moments like these promote emotional safety and soothing and help coworkers deal with emotional distress.
In your meetings, slow down to create opportunities to be emotionally responsive to your team members. Help them to feel your presence so they know you are there for them, they can count on you, and they matter to you.
You are very important to your team members. Tuning to and responding to their emotional needs will soothe their stress and make them feel safe, secure, and appreciated.
Lola Gershfeld, Psy. D., is a board and team dynamics specialist at EmC Leaders, which empowers leaders, teams, and boards to resolve conflict through the Emotional Connection process (EmC). For more information, visit: www.emcleaders.com