As I sat down to write my blog today, I am keenly aware of how the recent national crisis in El Paso, Texas will dominate conversations in offices all over the country, or even all over the world.

Texas Governor Abbot stated, “We must unite.” The El Paso Mayor Dee Margo announced, “We will not be defined by this cowardly act of violence,” and he asked for prayers for the victims and their families.  The Chief of Police stated that 20 people had been killed and another 26 wounded by a shooter.  The FBI agent affirmed their support for the families affected by the shooting.  I felt very sad to see this happen again in our country and wondered what I could do as an executive coach in writing this blog.  I decided that I could share my knowledge of what can be done to help co-workers and clients deal with such a tragedy. Some things to consider include:

  • Allow individuals to share their feelings in a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere. Offer referrals to mental health professionals for those whose reactions may be extreme --- such as someone who can’t stop crying, screaming, cursing, or wanting to hurt them self or others.
  • Allow silence and permission to keep feelings to oneself, if that is what they choose, and letting them know that sharing their feelings is an option at any time in the future.
  • Recognize that this event may serve as a trigger to their past feelings of depression and anxiety related to a previous loss, especially if they lost someone dear to them recently or if they have experienced similar trauma.
  • Be available for emotional and personal support as people process their emotions, recognizing that feelings can evolve and change dramatically and over time. Perhaps, at this time, some groups may consider a method used in the 60s during the civil rights movement and hold “Sensitivity Training” sessions to help people deal with their and others’ feelings and reactions.
  • Let people know what they CAN do personally to help by donating money or blood for the victims and their families. Research local or national elected officials that they can call or write to express concerns or urge an end to gun violence.

We cannot ignore the fact that this racial hate and violence is real in our country and is affecting us all --- at home as well as at work.  We cannot dismiss it or pretend that it does not exist.  Staff and clients may be “on edge” emotionally.  Recognize it and be willing to allow them to express their feelings of anger, sadness, and fear.  Letting it out may give enough relief to get back to the task at hand.

As I close this blog, another shooting has just taken place in Dayton, Ohio. Our coaches are here to help you support your team and clients. Please share with us how you care for others during this time – we’d love to learn from you, too!

With Warm Regards,

Sylvia Lane