Working with emotions in the room

I recently conducted a team building workshop for a group of employees experiencing rapid, massive change in their organization. Teams that had worked together for years were ending. Some people were leaving the organization. Others were staying, but losing longtime relationships and familiar surroundings as they transitioned into new teams and new locations.

I asked each person to share one challenge, one surprise, and one inspiration they have experienced during this transition period.

For challenges, they shared that it was hard just showing up knowing their job was going away; some felt sad that their longtime work relationships were ending; others felt great loss having to tell customers that they wouldn’t be serving them anymore; others felt betrayed by the organization because the information flow seemed broken.

For surprises, they mentioned witnessing people showing up and stepping up regardless of the challenges; co-workers who they thought would struggle seemed steady and eager to pitch in during this tough time; and one shared that his customers where actually traveling to his new location to continue working with him.

They found inspiration in the daily acts of compassionate service they witnessed as their coworkers diligently met the needs of their customers; and in the grace with which their customers surmounted their medical, social, and economic hardships.

You could feel the emotions shift in the room as we moved from the angst and loss of their challenges, to the delight of their surprises, to deep gratitude for acts of inspiration.

If you are working with groups navigating change, have them share their challenges, surprises, and inspirations to help them express and work through the emotions in the room. This brief conversation can help the group normalize their varied feelings and experiences, and recognize the goodness that occurs even in the most challenging times.

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