Today I breathed a sigh of relief. Today I read a post on LinkedIn by an HR professional about how they were having anxiety attacks and how stressed they were feeling thinking about going into another lockdown. My heart went out to them.
Working in ambiguity, managing self, teams and upwards, juggling multiple projects, delivering on time and in budget - and at the same time keeping everything within the law is second nature to HR professionals. It’s what we do.
Working in HR right now is extra challenging. There’s no doubt about it. The guidance and “rules” are continually changing. People are uncertain, leaders are uncertain, future business might be uncertain. Decisions are made, changed, and changed again. And HR is expected to be certain. To know the, “rules,” to know what decision to make to get the best outcome, to get it, “right,” and be 100 percent professional every time. All whilst ensuring everyone is listened to, supported and no beats are skipped. Right?
I breathed a sigh of relief for two reasons.
The first, like the line Bono sings in Do they Know It’s Christmas? “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” I connected with what they said and thought it could be me, or any of us, depending on circumstances.
Having worked in HR/OD since my twenties, I’ve worked in some pretty stressful situations when things did get on top of me. Not the point of an anxiety attack, but certainly to the point of sleepless nights and frantic working, and that was when things were normal. This year has been extraordinary. I truly empathise.
The second is that today I have many tools, techniques and resources available to me that I’ve learned over the years. I’ve always taken personal development seriously, my own as well as my team’s and I’m glad I have because today I feel equipped to deal with what’s happening right now. I’ve learned from lived experience, from hours and hours of development, from my coaching, from amazing colleagues, leaders and mentors, and from training in NLP.
I don’t know that person’s exact circumstances and can’t know what else might be going on for them right now. I can put myself in their shoes as an HR professional and share some of what has helped me and might help them.
Find a supportive network
Talking about it can help and I’ve been fortunate to have worked with fantastic teams who have supported eachother in tough times. Networks of HR colleagues who can empathise and relate to the everyday challenges have been invaluable. They have also been there as sounding boards, critical friends and trusted advisors. There are HR networks on LinkedIn, through CIPD, industry specific ones, on Facebook and more. Seek them out. I’ve always found them welcoming, non-judgmental and supportive and have made some true friends through them.
I’ve also made strong and supportive connections with the people on the NLP programmes that I’ve attended and delivered. The topics and content tend to do that – it’s difficult to teach how to build authentic rapport without building authentic rapport!
Find your yoga
This could be actual yoga or it could be something completely different. Anything that takes your mind and focus away from the stressor. I have a good friend that swears by running. She says the rhythmic sound of her feet hitting the ground is almost hypnotic and helps her switch off. I have a colleague who is an avid reader. She gets completely lost in a book and says it’s like travelling in her head.
For me it’s making jewellery. There’s nothing quite like hammering a piece of metal with a lump hammer or melting solder with a blow torch to melt away the stresses – in my opinion. Whatever it is, find your own yoga.
Speak kindly to yourself
I can tend towards being my own biggest critic. I’ve a strong desire to get things, “right.” It’s helpful when the consequences of getting something, “wrong,” can end up in a tribunal. However, it can permeate into other scenarios where the consequence of getting something, “wrong,” is actually powerful learning. I’ve learned that letting go of that need to get, “right,” all the time, changing unhelpful self-talk and quietening my inner critic can make a huge difference to mental state.
Thinking critically about yourself or your performance might feel like that critical friend making astute observations, however it’s likely to be negatively prejudiced and in reality, detrimental. That kind of thinking can really hinder potential, performance and success.
Notice and catch those moments when you are being self-critical. Notice what you are saying to yourself and ask yourself, “Would I say this to a child/ my best friend / someone I care about? What would I say to them?” Changing unhelpful self-talk has the potential to alleviate stress, dispel limiting beliefs, build self-confidence and much, much more.
Mind your language
What we say shapes our thoughts and what we think shapes our experience. I think that helping people first notice, then recognise, and then change any unhelpful language patterns they use is one of the most impactful outcomes of coaching. It may sound simple and minor, however the impact of changing even a single word can be considerable.
For example, notice when you use need to, must, or should. These can cause tension, even stress, for both the speaker and the hearer. If you catch yourself saying them, experiment and replace them with would like to, want to, or could. For example, instead of, “I must get that qualification,” experiment with, “I would like to get that qualification,” or, “I could get that qualification.” And at the same time ask yourself, “Says who?” or “What do I really want to do?” Experiment and notice the difference.
There are lots of other tools or approaches I can think of that could help, Reframing, Anchoring, Changing position and perspective are three.
If any of this resonates with you and you would like to continue this as conversation, please get in touch. And if you would like coaching or are interested in training with me fantastic, I’d love to work with you. And if you simply want to chat, chatting with a cup of tea is another form of yoga - for me.