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Topic: Workplace

Posted 6 April 2013, 6:49PM

By: Dr. Brenda Marshall

"I don't want to talk about how my father died with people at work" a client said to me.  "What are you comfortable saying?" I replied.  And that lead to a longer conversation about boundaries, personal needs and how it all fits in the workplace. 

 

And while you may not be able to stop the questions, you can control how you wish to answer them and influence what happens next.  Your answer can open the door to a longer conversation or you can gently close it. Of course this is incredibly difficult to think about in the early days when your head is swimming and the pain is overwhelming.  But as you plan your return to work, thinking this part through can be one way to ease some of your worries.

 

I often suggest people create a short script/statement that feels comfortable.  One grieving spouse didn't want inquires about how her children were coping with the death of their father.  When people asked, she simply said, "We're doing the best we can."  A simple, short statement that signaled no further questions were wanted but didn't alienate the asker.  Similarly, a senior executive was uncomfortable with his colleagues hugging him after the death of his child. He prided himself on maintaining a professional demeanour at work and these unsolicited displays of caring, while kind, were difficult.  Using subtle posturing shifts and a brief statement, he too was able to inject some control into how people responded to him.

 

Not everyone worries about this part of their experience.  And sometimes, it only becomes a concern over time.  Scripting is a simple strategy that can be applied in a variety of situations and can provide at least one small measure of control as you ease yourself back into the work routine.
 

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