As an isolated team member, how do you sustain an effective communication chain, stay productive, and get what you need out of your employer? How do you unmute yourself?
For many, the coronavirus crisis has meant working conditions they could not have anticipated. Now, collaboration and face-to-face contact — once common practice — are non-existent. We can no longer lean over the cubicle to ask a quick question. An experienced co-worker, assistance from a trusted colleague, and feedback from a manager can be hard to find. Today, we go it alone, working from home.
Which means we must put ourselves in a position to get what we need from our employer. We need to find a way to be seen — and heard. For that to happen, we must first hone and then leverage finely tuned communication skills. Skills we may not have previously mastered.
I wonder: How many of us are genuinely comfortable advocating for ourselves?
Our Guest: Rachel Drukenmiller, Wellbeing Expert at UnmutedLife
Our guest on this week’s episode of WorkTrends is Rachel Drukenmiller, a wellbeing expert recognized as the No. 1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. and a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement. When I asked why more people aren’t speaking up and advocating for themselves during these trying times, we jumped right into this timely topic. Rachel’s answer was enlightening:
“We thought this was all going to be over by now. Then we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll have Easter. Then Thanksgiving.’ Now we’re realizing, ‘No, this is gonna be a long haul.’”
“So the important thing is to step back and recognize that we’ve been in chronic fight or flight mode — an acute response that puts us in a reactive part of our brain. And we stay there. Not just because of pandemic fatigue, but because of the climate crisis, political, social, and racial injustice, and work demands and homeschooling.” Rachel went on to add for people working from home, the timing couldn’t have been worse: “We lost our outlets and social connections. We lost a method of release.”
“We stopped speaking up.”
Combined with the prolonged trauma many of us are experiencing, this form of self-silencing, Rachel told us, can have a negative impact on each of us. “It ends up being a host for emotional, relational, mental health challenges like depression and loneliness, marital problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and more.”
Learning How to Unmute Yourself
Rachel used an interesting analogy to help us learn how to unmute ourselves…
“In the wild, a gazelle is getting chased by a tiger. The gazelle gets caught. So now, it will play dead. The gazelle will go limp; it will try to trick the tiger into thinking that they’re already dead. Often, the tiger will leave. The gazelle will get up and shake it off. And when they do, they release all that negative energy. They feel new again.”
Rachel went on to say: “Animals in the wild release energy, and humans don’t. We compound it. We have one stress, and we never resolve it. Then we take on another stress, and we never resolve that one. Eventually, the body has to do something with all that stress. We need the release. We need to speak up!”
I mentioned to Rachel that leaders also need to help with this release. They must step up in an emotionally intelligent way and intentionally interact with their people. Leaders must serve as, or provide, a form of release. Rachel agreed, “In times of crisis, what followers need most from leaders is trust, compassion, stability, and hope. To do that, they must ask for feedback, then act on what was said.”
Leaders as Release
Rachel went on to say the leaders who provide this form of release — that enable us to unmute — are highly valued. We rate them as the most likable, approachable, and trustworthy.
Our conversation only got better from there. We discussed practical methods of releasing unwanted energy, increasing self-awareness, and how to be your own advocate by taking action.
I thank Rachel Drukenmiller for joining me on the #WorkTrends podcast this week. I enjoyed every minute… and you will too. Listen in!
Find Rachel on LinkedIn.