Recently, I witnessed a dialogue between colleagues who hurt. Perhaps you know the situation, either as narrator, listening or witnessing? In this article, you get a few more tips on how to avoid making matters worse for your colleague.
Else had been away the day before and so eaten out and I heard Elses colleague say hello and ask how she was. "Not so good," Else replied. "We just got the answer to the tests. My husband has cancer in stage four. That is, incurable." She sank once and turned her head away.
"Oh no," said the colleague, "poorly, is not there anything they can do?" Else shook his head and told what they had been told at the hospital. "So he will not experience Frederik's confirmation. And - how can I handle everything without him? I can not!"
The colleague said, "My cousin's husband had the same message five years ago. He actually lived for almost two years, even though they had said no more than six months. They also had a daughter who had not been confirmed yet, but he reached it. He was hospitalized and he was allowed to come home for the confirmation. "
Else looked disoriented for a moment, and then she smiled a bit. When the colleague had finished talking about the cousin's cancer, she turned to her work.
The colleague stood as if something was missing. "If you need to talk about it, no, just come. I'd like to talk more with you," she said.
"Thank you," Else said without turning. "Right now, I'd rather think of something else. Maybe later."
Practice for the colleague who would like to support and felt rejected. And Else, who could hardly accommodate herself, how would she be able to meet the colleague's story?
Are you a bird or a fish?
Surprised by Else's feelings, it was unlikely she wanted to hear other people's stories. What most of us miss in a situation like Elses is a feeling of being understood and having escorted out there in the ocean of emotion.
I call it a bird when you, like a parrot, use someone else's story as keywords to come in with their own. And I call it fish when you smoothly swim with the other where she is.
As a fish, the answer could sound: "Where must it be shocking." Break. Or: "Is not it almost unreal for you to be at work?" Or: "Should we talk about how I can make it easier for you today?" Different answers that put the other at the center, not themselves.
Much other than loss
For many of us it's scary to be overwhelmed by emotions. We can become bluffy, disoriented and lonely. The very best thing about that situation is a person who is only present without trying to 'fix' it for us.
This is especially true if we have been out of grave terror, threats or violence. When we meet with presence, the sense of being a stranger disappears from foreigners, who often accompany shock.
There is brain physiology behind what I am writing. When we are overwhelmed by emotions, we operate from a part of the brain other than where our common sense belongs, namely, from Amygdala, who cares for our safety. Amygdala decides whether to fight or escape.
The good colleague breaks in
What about the testimony of the parrot conversation?
You can also do something. Everyone who chooses parrot snail has a good reason for it. Perhaps they need to be heard. Perhaps there is never anyone who has told them that it is not very helpful. Help, they will certainly like it, and it also calls for recognition.
If you want to mix, ask the parrot if she tells her story because she thinks it's helpful to Else? You can even check with Else if it was helpful? And then you can swim with her until you meet land.
Or if it requires more courage than you have, you can return to Else and let her notice that du is with her.
Some of us find ourselves in the parrot's role. Personally, I think better about conversations where one hears and understands each other instead of speaking in parallel. However parrots are often colorful and entertaining and also have their important role.
When it comes to supporting someone in their feelings, it's just no matter if you're a bird or a fish.