Three Things You Should Never Say During Losses & Endings
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Three Things You Should Never Say During Losses & Endings

Three Things You Should Never Say During Losses & Endings

It has been a tumultuous few weeks and your team members may be showing signs of fear, shock, and sadness. Are typical tasks taking longer? Do you sense reluctance to take on new projects? These can be signs that this team member is in the first stage of personal change, Losses & Endings. 


Personal change never moves in a perfectly straight line, so even people who had previously moved on to the Transition stage can find themselves back in Losses & Endings. This is both unsettling and discouraging if they don’t understand this is a normal pattern, and that they’re capable of moving themselves forward and out of Losses & Endings. 


Sometimes leaders inadvertently slow down an employee’s forward movement, even though they are just trying to help, so let’s look at the three things you should avoid saying when someone is in the Losses & Endings stage. These things can unintentionally keep your team members stuck in this stage. 


    1.   Don’t compare it to how much more others are losing. 

This can backfire and cause them to feel even worse which holds them in this stage longer. While you may be just trying to broaden their perspective, you are not the right person to say this. From the boss, it can sound like critical feedback that they are a weak or spoiled person. Always bear in mind that most people are a bit more sensitive in this stage. 


    1.   Don’t downplay what they’re feeling. 

If you downplay or try to ignore what they are feeling it comes across as dismissive and cold. Many leaders make this mistake because they are so uncomfortable with human emotions, or they have chronic fears that people will take advantage of them if they show that they care (few actually will). However, it’s better to clumsily acknowledge how hard this must be for someone than to downplay or pretend to not notice anything.


    1.   Don’t cheerlead at what they are gaining. 

This isn’t the time to cheerfully remind them “Well, you’ve been home alone for four months, but hey, at least you don’t have that hour-long commute!” Instead, acknowledge the adjustments they have had to make. 


Here’s a quick trick to help you avoid saying the wrong thing:

      1. Listen first. 
      2. Look for any signs of fear, shock, or sadness.
      3. Pause and ask yourself: “Is what I’m about to say helpful?” 


As a leader, you can utilize these tools to help people lead themselves through the Losses & Endings stage and keep them productive, focused, and hopeful.


What are your potential strengths and pitfalls as you lead your team through losses and endings? Would you like help understanding and leading others through this stage? Please let me know. 


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