Understanding Well-Being, Work-Life Harmony, and Strengths

Last week Gallup hosted a Learning Series for Gallup-Certified Coaches with a number of the sessions focused on the topic of Well-being in the Workplace and when Coaching with strengths. These thought-provoking sessions caused me to reflect heavily on my own past with the term “well-being” and my more recent challenges. They provided insights for me to finally begin to really grasp the concepts, what they require, and ultimately what they mean for me specifically.

Gallup Five Elements of Well-Being

I personally struggled for years to intellectually understand and make sense of the terms “well-being” and “work-life balance.” Just ask the employees who work with me how many times we had in depth discussions (read: debates and even arguments) around this topic. A few years ago, my team created materials on “well-being” to better train our managers on its importance, our philosophy, the policies, and the tools/resources available to them as Managers to leverage with their teams. Despite creating and sharing this training, I struggled tremendously with the content and concepts. Why did I struggle so much?

My Struggle with Well-Being & Work-Life Balance

Well – my biggest challenge is – I LOVE working, I mean really truly LOVE working! I know it sounds crazy to some, but I love the sense of accomplishment, I love coaching employees, I love using technology, and I love creating an extraordinary employee experience. Therefore, why in the world did I need to do anything other than work? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I also love being outdoors, taking vacations, and reading every kind of book imaginable, but because I enjoy work, I didn’t understand the term “balance” and I didn’t understand why “well-being” meant somehow achieving some superior state of being meeting social, community, financial, health, and career needs.

Before having my son in March of 2016, my personal values (what I deemed most important to me) did not include family – rather my focus was on excellence, results, learning, growing, etc. At the time, I truly believed having children would not change me. After the birth of my son (and more recently my twin daughters), I realize now that statement was only partially true. While I am still passionate about working, I still love it and it gives me tremendous satisfaction, I also adore my children and love the time I spend with them.

From Well-Being to Mindset to Work-Life Blending

While working on the well-being training, I was personally going through a tremendous struggle with a significant health issue. I struggled to see how life could ever be completely balanced as I was challenged daily to keep up with work and have the energy to spend time with my son and husband. I argued “How could anyone ever really ‘achieve’ “well-being?” I felt it was impossible and unrealistic. Then through research and significant self-reflection, I discovered the power of mindset and the ability to improve one’s state of being despite one’s circumstances. After a brief hospitalization just before Christmas undergoing tremendous challenges, I realized I could find joy, happiness, and contentment even in the midst of significant struggle. I pondered…if this is possible, then why should we focus on some abstract concept of “well-being” and an even more ridiculous concept of “balance.” After this experience, I began referring to “work-life balance” as “work-life blending,” which meant finding the right blend of the two and accomplishing them in parallel. I got quite good at doing this (with only one child) and advancing my career while reserving time for family (with tremendous support/involvement of my husband).

From Work-Life Blending to Survival

In 2019, I had twin girls that came with a whole new set of challenges (as I am sure you can imagine). As a female leader, I was juggling nursing twins and meetings, desperately trying to get into the office – and well-being was nonexistent…there was only survival. And balance well – it consisted of getting maybe two (sometimes one), three hour stretches of sleep at night! I learned how to pump milk while conducting trainings and in leadership meetings. Extra time – for friends, church, hobbies, etc. – just did not exist. Even “work-life blending” became ridiculous – I had no intentional blend of anything. I was simply doing my best not to completely disappoint at work while keeping my babies fed (who as a side note due to a health condition, FPIES, could not tolerate formula, so I had no choice but to keep feeding them myself). Don’t get me wrong, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The choices and the life I struggled through was for my children who I love and adore and for my career which I also love and adore. I might be easier on myself and set more realistic expectations given the limitations so as not to disappoint myself, but it was absolutely what was required at the time.

Enter the 2020 COVID pandemic. You all know the story – working remotely, juggling kids, figuring out childcare, isolation, exhaustion, etc. etc. etc. Interestingly, although I miss interactions with people, going to fun outings (zoo, etc.), and traveling, I have actually had better well-being during the pandemic. I’ve gotten more sleep at night working from home (not needing to “get ready” and drive to work). I’ve actually accomplished more at work than I have in prior years. My teams became even more effective. I’ve developed closer relationships with my family and most especially my children. I’ve been able to see my girls grow up in a way I might otherwise never have. And I even re-established friendships with my two best friends from high school having regularly zoom video calls to catch up. Once again, don’t get me wrong this last year was HARD but in the end despite the pain and challenges there are some silver linings.

All this brings me to last week and how I have finally started to grasp these concepts which have consistently proved difficult. I recently completed my Workhuman Professional Certification. Part of this certification is Workhuman’s “The Charter of Workplace Rights” which include nine rights of a human workplace (amazing and I highly recommend you check the full list out). The right that stood out to me on this topic in particular was:

From Work-Life Blending to Work-Life Harmony

Finally a term that makes sense and resonates with me personally – “work-life harmony” which is defined as:

“Work-life harmony is about how people respond to the constant fluctuations of work and personal priorities. It’s about how much or how little these areas of life are integrated and, most importantly, how each one enriches each other. Work-life harmony means all the various aspects of people’s lives work in concert to create a sense of fulfillment.

Everyone’s version of work-life harmony is unique since people have different priorities, responsibilities, and values. What is consistent is the right for employees to achieve both personal and professional goals in a way that is fulfilling to them.”


What a fantastic explanation of what I have been struggling to wrap my mind around for years. I have always felt well-being was unique to the individual and I think this explanation is perfect. I truly want to have a life experience that creates this work-life harmony. Beyond my own life, my personal purpose is to help people have the best life experience possible and have our business contribute positively to that experience. Work-life harmony fits perfectly with my mission and purpose. For me, work-life harmony does not mean working less, rather it means intentionally getting the most out of my day/time to create results at work while also intentionally focusing on my children and husband while with them. I am very much “in progress” on working on my “work-life harmony” and recognize this is likely an ongoing process rather than a future state of achievement. I believe this is where “well-being” can play an important and meaningful role.

By paying attention to our current well-being and the various contributors that may be at play in impacting our overall well-being, we can identify strategies or make changes to move towards work-life harmony. Elements of well-being serve not as a destination, where you have ‘achieved’ success in all five areas, but rather the a process for self-reflection and the tools to take action to improve.

Jessica’s Breakthrough Insight

In my current life circumstance, my ability to reach some perfect “well-being” destination seems impossible. However, creating harmony through self-reflection, considering my current and desired state of well-being, and identifying small changes seems much more achievable.

Work-Life Harmony leveraging Strengths

Finally, as many Gallup coaches shared during the sessions this week, our individual strengths can play a major role and have a tremendous impact on our well-being. Even as a certified Gallup Strengths Coach, I had not previously considered (even for myself), how my strengths might be impacting my well-being. My top five Gallup strengths are Communication, Maximizer, Ideation, Input, and Strategic.

With communication as my number one strength, being remote can be a big challenge for me. As a leader while I do have regular meetings with team members, I don’t get as much of the casual conversation and interesting discussions. At some point during this past year, I began writing articles, insights, and now my own blog posts. This writing, I now realize, is my means of remedying my well-being using my communication strength in the written form. Even if only a handful of people read these posts/articles, they are meaningful and impactful for my own sense of well-being and harmony. Simply put, when I write, I feel more fulfilled and better as a result.

I intend to take this concept back to my employees and look at their strengths in the context of well-being and both coach and brainstorm ideas to help them achieve their appropriate work-life harmony. I encourage everyone to consider how they might use their strengths in the context of well-being to achieve better work-life harmony. I look forward to reading the new book “Wellbeing at Work” by Jim Harter which builds on these key concepts. For those that have not taken Gallup’s strengths assessment, I highly encourage you to do so.

As always, I welcome any comments and feedback on these topics. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Related Links:

Workhuman Introduces Workhuman Certified
During Workhuman Live Online, Eric Mosley shared a vision for and championed a new charter for workplaces where people have the right to be respected, seen, appreciated, and heard. https://www.workhuman.com/resources/globoforce-blog/workhuman-introduces-workhuman-certified

Your Top 14 Wellbeing Resolutions for 2021 (gallup.com)

#RecognizeThis: Balance Is Out – How Working Parents Can Thrive in the New Normal on LinkedIn Live


Workplace Respect: Essential to Culture

In 2019, Experitec’s Leadership Team held Workplace Respect Workshops with every single Experitec employee owner to ensure clarity, alignment, and understanding of the cultural expectations of respect in our workplace. Today, I facilitated this same workshop with the executive team of Novaspect, another Emerson Impact Partner. The irony of conducting Workplace Respect training on inauguration day is not lost on me.

For the past four years, whether or not you liked former President Trump’s politics, policies, and choices, I think most would appreciate his style and approach could at times be quite disrespectful. A quick google search of “Disrespect” and “President Trump” provides numerous examples of his name calling, making fun of other people for appearance, disabilities, and gender, and belittling others with whom he disagreed. I think many workplaces have historically tolerated a corporate culture which accepted or maybe, in some cases, even promoted a culture where disrespectful behavior was acceptable. In fact, in order to become a leader or gain respect, many needed to participate in this type of disrespectful behavior. Former President Trump with his many years of experience likely adopted his style from these historical approaches.

We now have a new President of the United States who said today:

“We can treat each other with dignity and respect.”

“Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another.”

Joe Biden, President of the United States

The words dignity and respect are a critical part of the framework of any respectful workplace. Both creating and maintaining a respectful workplace is essential for every workplace culture now and in the future. As individuals and companies, we can absolutely disagree on policy, approach, practices, beliefs and a variety of topics and issues. In fact, I personally believe these disagreements and discussions can lead to tremendous insight, learning, and results. We must, however, learn to always be respectful and treat each other with dignity in our interactions, conversations, discussions, and workplaces. We don’t have to like each other, accept each other, agree with one another’s’ beliefs, or even respect each other’s beliefs or choices. We can disagree and still choose to be respectful in our interactions, conversations, words, behaviors, and workplaces.

Every single person is capable of choosing to be respectful in their interactions with others. All workplaces must strive to promote, encourage, and even require or demand their employees learn how to interact respectfully and do so at all times. The time has passed for workplaces to accept disrespectful and inappropriate behavior as commonplace. Our schools and children are taught to treat others respectfully and we must set a better example in our workplaces. I want my workplace to be a workplace where I would be proud and want my son and twin daughters to work.

I am proud of the Experitec workplace and our employee owners who I believe take this to heart and live it every day. We may not yet be perfect but as a leadership team we have committed to continuing to ensure a respectful workplace is a core part of our culture and values. Any workplace with a culture of respect will reap the many benefits of employee commitment, productivity, engagement, satisfaction, and overall results. Employees who are respected and can be their true selves in the workplace will undoubtedly be happier, give more of themselves, and the results will follow.

Experitec’s Workplace Respect Philosophy 

Experitec’s vision to be viewed as No-Equal by our Stakeholders (employees, principals, and customers) includes the belief all people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. To ensure we achieve this vision of being No-Equal and attain the highest standard of workplace culture, Experitec is firmly committed to our core values (driven, positive, collaborative) and creating a professional working environment in which all people are treated respectfully. 

“Being respectful is the willingness to show consideration for the rights or feelings of others; to treat them courteously, inclusively and safely.” 

Experitec believes in a proactive approach to creating a respectful workplace.  

“A Respectful Workplace is a safe place of employment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, but more importantly, it is a work environment that is free of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior where employees are treated fairly, difference is acknowledged and valued, communication is open and civil, conflict is addressed early and there is a culture of empowerment and cooperation.” 

At Experitec, everyone is responsible for behaving respectfully and reporting workplace concerns without fear of retaliation or reprisal. 

What should you do if you are a leader and want to ensure you create a respectful workplace? I encourage you to consider a strategy which is appropriate for your business and culture. The strategy we at Experitec chose is:

“Fostering a Respectful Workplace is not a program or project, rather it is a behavior, mindset and attitude that must be clearly defined, communicated, trained, and modeled throughout the organization. Leaders and Managers are responsible for actively promoting a culture of workplace respect and quickly addressing issues as they arise. Employees are trained in Workplace Respect and are responsible for upholding Experitec’s philosophy and guidelines regarding Workplace Respect.”

Experitec, Inc. an Emerson Impact Partner

Whatever your strategy – you must take action, set the tone, provide clarity of expectations, and ensure understanding of those expectations.

In workplaces that continue to look different more and more each day we must learn to embrace our differences, respect one another, and create workplaces where people can perform at their best. After all, the better that people perform, the better results they will generate, the better businesses we can create, the better communities we will build, and the better nation we become.

Please take a moment to complete the poll below – I’m interested to see how society is doing at creating respectful workplaces!

Focus on “We” not “They” or “Us”

After reading a Harvard Business Review Daily Management Tip (How to Talk with Your Team About the Violence at the U.S. Capitol (hbr.org)) about discussing the events that occurred at the capitol last week with your teams, I began pondering the value and merits of such a discussion. I respect HBR expertise and opinions on what would bring value but also felt concerned about how people may respond, what they might say, and what damage might be done within our teams. I discussed this topic with some of my team members, my husband (also a manager), and others whom I respect. Each reacted a little differently but they all had a common themes: “Why would you want to do that?” “Aren’t you worried about what people might say?” “What if it damages working relationships?”

I truly related to their gut reactions, in fact, my own gut reaction was quite similar. In fact, I was surprised anyone would suggest talking about such a potentially devise topic in the workplace. Typically, when a suggestion like the one in the HBR article appears to be so contradictory to my natural gut reaction, I find myself wanting to ponder the contradiction more deeply. As I reflected and discussed the topic further, I tried to believe talking about these issues must be important – but why? Why is it important to talk about what makes us uncomfortable, angry, sad, fearful, upset, embarrassed, frustrated, etc.? Why should we take the unnecessary risk to discuss topics which could cause greater discomfort?

I can’t say with absolute certainty I know the answer to these questions. I am willing to bet other researches could provide a more scientific explanation. For me, I think we may need to talk about hard topics in order to recognize “we” have a problem that only “we” can solve together. By “WE” I most literally mean everyone – in every job, in every role, in every state, in every home, and in every business; of all genders, races, socioeconomic statuses, and backgrounds. We have gotten ourselves into this polarized mess and we must work together to get out of it. I am sure every person reading this has heard some of the following statements recently:

  • “This is all their fault”
  • “They are not like us. They don’t get it!”
  • “They must be lying”
  • “They are out to get us”
  • “They refuse to see the truth, unlike us”
  • “How could they believe this, why are they like this?”

Feel free to insert any group or person into either category “they” or “us” and you have probably heard the same statement made by both sides on an infinite number of occasions. As a result, discussions devolve into “them/they” versus “us” and why one group is right and another is wrong. The world was never meant to be divided into two groups – we are incredibly diverse and our diversity brings so much value – so why are we allowing ourselves to fall into these polarizing (and self limiting) categories of beliefs?

Ask any historian and they will tell you history is rarely so clear cut that one group is completely right and another completely wrong. Deep down we know this to be true of ourselves as well. We each can remember at least one disagreement we’ve had where neither person was truly “right” and both points of view were valid perspectives.

Many research studies have been conducted in this area where two individuals are shown the exact same picture and asked to describe it. Each person will remember and describe it in a completely different way. Our perspectives, life experiences, education, skills, etc. have created the lens through which we see the world and cause us to interpret things differently. Just because we interpret things differently doesn’t make our interpretation right and another’s wrong – they are just different. Unfortunately, we (the collective everyone “we“) have become so accustomed to believing only those who we identify with, we’ve stopped considering the possibility that an alternative (and equally valuable) perspective may also exist. Furthermore, that alternative perspective (if we chose to consider it with an open mind) might actually help us to better solve the problems we are facing: individually, in our workplaces, in our homes, in our families, in our government, and in the world.

Unfortunately, we (the collective everyone “we”) have become so accustomed to believing only those who we identify with we’ve stopped considering the possibility that an alternative (and valuable) perspective may also exist.

What we really need right now is more WE and less them and us. We (as mothers and fathers, employees, spouses, and leaders) need to look for the common ground and learn from each other rather than fight with each other. When doing so, we must be respectful, which means being clear, kind, honest, considerate, thoughtful, and open minded. We can absolutely disagree while talking about hard things and still be respectful of others. We must also acknowledge when we are wrong or when we lack the information necessary to form an informed opinion.

I am not sure when the tipping point will occur. It may take until we are so miserable being angered, sad, frustrated, exhausted, pissed off, fearful, etc. that we realize we have to try something different to move past this point in history. I hope it does not take much longer. As a mother, for my children, I want a world where “WE” come together, we talk about the hard topics, we look at issues from lots of perspectives, we value truth and honesty, and we solve problems and challenges working together to make this world better. We can’t solve these issues with soundbites, memes, GIFs, tweets, texts or even blog posts like this one. We need to communicate by talking with each other, engaging with each other, learning about each other as human beings and definitely not simplifying positions into “them/they” or “us.” We each have a unique story and experience to bring to these discussions which just might help us find an answer no one ever thought about or believed to be possible.

As a mother, for my children, I want a world where “WE” come together, we talk about the hard topics, we look at issues from lots of perspectives, we value truth and honesty, and we solve problems and challenges working together to make this world better.

This level of engagement and discussion won’t be possible until we all begin to put down our metaphorical swords (especially our negative and hurtful words and extreme over generalizations) and begin to meaningfully engage with one another. I prefer to believe and am hopeful generally most people are inherently good and ultimately want to find a way to move forward together in a better way.

I don’t have an answer right now for how or where these discussions can or should take place. What I do know is we absolutely have to start having them. We have to learn the “they” may (and most likely does) include someone we love and respect and the “us” might include others with opinions who we don’t or shouldn’t love and respect.

In my opinion, for the sake of our children, our families, our workplaces, our communities, and our country WE must engage in meaningful and respectful discussions while also drawing an uncrossable line at violence, dishonesty, and hate. As a parent I have told my son there are two things Mama says are never ok – lying and hurting others. I hold these ethical and moral boundaries as an absolute – it is never acceptable to hurt another person and telling the truth is always better than lying no matter the consequences. These boundaries are not negotiable, debatable, or modifiable, they are absolute and WE must demonstrate our commitment to be better today than were yesterday.

In conclusion, after reflecting on this topic, I think we must begin to engage and learn more from one another by having respectful conversations and discussions. I do think these discussions need to have some very critical “Rules of Engagement” to ensure they do not devolve in the typical ineffective debates. I’ve started a list below I think could be valuable but would welcome comments or suggestions on what should be included.

Rules of Engagement

  • Be Truthful – Always share only your personal truth and experiences. Avoid discussing anything where you lack a factual basis for your position.
  • Be Honest – Don’t make up stories or information to prove your position or point. Be honest when you don’t know something and if you are unsure of how you feel about something.
  • Be Factual– If you lack factual data or information, take the time to research and come prepared with factual information only. Remember – just because something is on social media does not make it factual.
  • Show Respect – Treat everyone the way you would want the most important person in your life (God, Jesus, a spouse, a parent, a child) to be treated.
  • Seek to Understand – Start from a place of curiosity about alternative view points, perspectives, or information you may not know.
  • Learn – Approach the conversation as if you are learning something new and assume you don’t know everything. Realistically it is impossible to know everything on any topic no matter who you are.

I look forward to reading any comments or suggestions others have on this topic. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Welcome to Jessica Tietjen’s Blog

Thank you for taking the time to come to my blog and check out topics I am writing about and sharing. I hope you find the topics relevant, relatable, and impactful to your life.

Over the course of 2020, a lot (is an understatement) of the number of major events that occurred forever altering our lives, our families, our workplaces, our communities, and the world. The changes we experienced significant and impacted us each differently. Throughout this experience I began writing about key insights, ideas, lessons, and new concepts as I encountered them. I do not purport to be an expert in any one particular area. I am not a renowned researcher, author, or expert in a prestigious university. Rather, I am a mom, a wife, an employee, and a leader in a small business with a desire to help all people achieve extraordinary performance in their lives so when they look back on their lives they think “I lived a great life.”

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself – my name is Jessica Tietjen – I am a person with many different roles in my life each of which help shape me as a person.

  • I am a wife and mother to my three beautiful children Wyatt who is 4 and twin girls Arabella and Scarlett who are 18 months.
  • I am a lawyer by trade graduating from Saint Louis University Law School in 2010.
  • I have performed a variety of different positions including In House Counsel, Talent Development Coordinator, Director of Talent Management, Vice President of Talent Management & General Counsel, and Vice President Shared Services & General Counsel.
  • I am currently a leader to the most phenomenal team of employees who never cease to impress me with their ability to accomplish anything I challenge them with accomplishing. As leader of this team, I get to work in a variety of areas including Talent Management, Information Technology, Digital Optimization, Marketing, Legal, Administration, Customer Service, Order Management, and Project Coordination.
  • I am a strengths fanatic and Certified Gallup Strengths Coach always trying to maximize the performance of everyone in my life (including my children!).
  • I am a communicator and writer – seriously my number one strength is Communication – and I absolutely love it. I enjoy giving speeches, creating training, discussing challenging topics, and writing about people, performance, and technology.

All the roles in my life are what make me who I am and I believe it is essential to perform at our absolute best in all the roles we serve in our lives (not just our work related roles). Each of our roles can benefit from focusing on achieving extraordinary performance in those roles. In fact, leading our families is one of the first and biggest leadership challenges we will ever face in our lives and also the most important. How we choose to lead when no one is watching is a great indicator of how great a leader we truly are inside.

I started my writing journey with a few articles on LinkedIn – they came out of some internal work I did for Experitec. A few of my employees were instrumental in encouraging me to not only write those articles but share them with the world. Based upon their input and feedback I decided to continue with this journey by creating my own blog.

I hope what I write in this blog will be helpful and useful for everyone wanting to achieve extraordinary performance in any role. I plan to write about what is relevant, important, and meaningful to me. I also hope to respond to the current challenges we are facing and provide thought provoking ideas and concepts. I look forward to connecting with others who are interested in these topics and especially other working women and mothers.

Please take time to comment or reach out to me directly. I love to help others with their performance and coach them to success.

Connecting and Sharing is Essential: When asked ‘How are you?’ it is totally acceptable to say I’m not ok!

I’ve observed over the past few months the employees who work with me go through a variety of stages and emotions as we’ve reacted to the pandemic and working remotely. As a Manager asking my employees “how are you?” during challenging times is absolutely critical to establishing and building trust, showing empathy, and helping support employees so they can continue to perform in spite of all the challenges. However, we have to make it safe for one and other to answer the question honestly. 95% of the time when someone asks you “how are you doing” the answer is “Fine” “ok” “good enough” or some other generic response. We absolutely must create a safe space for others to be vulnerable with us (both as people and Managers) and share their experience and emotions. As I reflected over the past few months I noticed the following…

When we ask “how are you?” make it safe to give an honest answer!

Initially, the feelings were shockuncertaintyfearworry, and for some skepticism or disbelief. We responded with commitment and resilience when on a Friday many packed up their desks, relocated to their homes, and started serving customers first thing Monday morning. Due to our organization’s commitment to IT we had what was necessary to, for the most part, be successful working remotely immediately. Employees were comfortable (literally in comfy clothes), relaxed (home hair and no makeup), and content to be home with their families. Everything was new and no one knew really what to expect.

As time progressed, I observed many realize how resilient they were and become proud of the ability to ‘do it all’ – work from home, juggle kids, virtual learning, zoom happy hours, drive by birthdays, creative outlets at work, chatting on yammer. Our organization even had a virtual Employee Appreciation Day to celebrate our Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award and ESOP Share price reveal. We celebrated with fun events, yammer chats, contests, and awards – it was fun, and light, and it felt like we would make this work and could overcome the challenges. People were grateful for their jobs and the flexibility, they were confident in their capability to do the job remotely, and relieved to be safe at home with their families.

As summer began, many began taking vacations (primarily due to a requirement to spend time down or lose vacation time) and interaction with each other began to reduce. I believe people were enjoying these vacations – but they were unlikely to be the vacations they might have otherwise planned. Disappointment, over what should have been, could have been, or what was, set in for those who adjusted their plans. The remoteness became intolerable for many – the isolation and loneliness slowly took over. When restaurants, stores, summer camps etc. were finally open a return to ‘normal’ felt natural and many began venturing out. A brief reprieve occurred as the ‘curve was flattened’ and it seemed maybe freedom was possible and we could relax, be excited about going out, and enjoy other activities.

Overtime the optimism and energy began to wear off – employees stopped regularly chatting on yammer, the daily check-ins started to feel less friendly and more routine, cameras were turned off, and a whole new set of emotions started to emerge – sadnessangerregretconcernfrustration. Some experienced people in their circles get sick or even die from the virus. Others have seen economic or social impacts on families and children. Everyone has felt the effects of the pandemic in one way or another and is trying to cope with a ‘new normal’ that no one really wants or enjoys.

Most recently, as the virus numbers have continued to rise (and in some places like St. Louis at alarming rates) and schools have announced their decisions to either be totally virtual or partially virtual – I think everyone is just reaching a new point of exhaustion. We are tired of being apart, angry at all the limitations in our lives, disappointed the virus wasn’t slowed, sad to be missing our families and friends, and having to make the least bad of all bad choices. I see people being beginning to show signs of how much all of this has worn them down making everyone more grumpy, impatient, defensive, irritated, frustrated, easily offended, and annoyed. I’ve also seen signs of sadness as employees are pessimisticdepressed, regretful, disappointed, and sometimes even paralyzed unable to do anything.I’ve seen an increase in anxiety and people being bewildered, confused, cautious, nervous, worried, and most of all just people are just extremely stressed.

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We can’t eliminate or change the many different emotions everyone is feeling and has felt throughout this challenging period of time. What we absolutely MUST do is recognize the many underlying emotions contributing to our daily interactions and mental attitude each day as we work with one and other. When we ask “how are you?” – it absolutely has to be acceptable to say “I’m not good and here is why.” We absolutely don’t have to be “ok” all the time.

Being vulnerable and sharing our personal emotions and situation, acknowledging one and others personal experience emotions and situation, and supporting one and other no matter what – is not only critical but can also be extremely productive. When we know what people are dealing with and where they are coming from we can be more forgiving and understanding as we interact. When we share how we are feeling and what is happening it can bond a team and help team members to unburden by sharing their experience. I know with 100% confidence the team of employees I work with each day supports and cares about me personally and I support and care about them personally. When we connect and share – I see them generate tremendous performance results.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read this message – I encourage all of you (especially Managers and Leaders) to consider creating a safe space for those you interact with to share their experience. Acknowledge the whole person and support each other – you might be surprised by the positive result.

I look forward to comments!

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