No one looks forward to experiencing grief. Yet except for those who die very young, grief is a part of life. Whenever we lose someone important to us, or when we experience loss as a nation, or as a planet, grief takes a place on the calendar. After the sad event, we mark our grief on one day every year. For many of us, September Eleventh is one of those days.
Your experience of marking grief can be hurtful to you or helpful to you. Fortunately, you can choose how to mark your grief. Here are some of your choices — three that are helpful, and three that are less so. I'll begin with the less helpful.
- Loss? What loss?
- You can tell yourself it hasn't happened, if you're clever enough to fool yourself. This is a tempting choice, because it promises that you can go on living the life you had before. But beware: Reality eventually intrudes. If you find yourself here, choose again.
- Anger and rage can underlie responses such as the urges for vengeance, suicide, rape, assault, murder, rioting, racism, and war. When these occur, the two parties can become locked in an infinite dance of hurt and pain. And vengeance, even if achieved, rarely dampens the anger. Anger is not your best choice.
- How you mark grief
is a choice. Make
the choice consciously.
- You can reflect — on your loss, on what you had before, on what you have now, and on what you've gained. Reflection builds appreciation for what was, for what is, and for what can be.
- Connecting with others, especially others who've experienced similar loss, gives you access to support through their hearts. And connecting gives you a way to provide support from your heart. Support can be invaluable to us all, especially on days when we mark our grief.
- Loss is painful not only because of the emptiness, but also because of what was lost. Treasure and celebrate what was lost. Celebration can help you find new treasures.
If you lost friends or colleagues on September Eleventh, and if they were carrying out the company's mission at the time, you might feel a special sense of loss. On September Eleventh, give yourself permission to do what you need for yourself, and give others permission to do what they need for themselves.
You or the people you work with might not be able to work on September Eleventh, or you might need to take some time away alone, or time to be with others. On September Eleventh, if you need it, seek support. And if you can, give support. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Irrational Self-Interest
- When we try to influence others, especially large groups or entire companies, we sometimes create packages
of incentives and disincentives that are intended to affect behavior. These strategies usually assume
that people make choices on rational grounds. Is this assumption valid?
- The Restructuring-Fear Cycle: II
- When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, lay off, or make other organizational
adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Here's Part II of an exploration of how the fear
induced by these changes can lead to the need for further restructuring.
- Scope Creep and the Planning Fallacy
- Much is known about scope creep, but it nevertheless occurs with such alarming frequency that in some
organizations, it's a certainty. Perhaps what keeps us from controlling it better is that its causes
can't be addressed with management methodology. Its causes might be, in part, psychological.
- Toxic Conflict in Teams: Attacks
- In toxic conflict, people try to resolve their differences by eliminating each other's ability to provide
opposition. In the early stages of toxic conflict, the attacks often escape notice. Here's a catalog
of covert attack tactics.
- Heart with Mind
- We say people have "heart" when they continue to pursue a goal despite obstacles that would
discourage almost everyone. We say that people are stubborn when they continue to pursue a goal that
we regard as unachievable. What are our choices when achieving the goal is difficult?
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
- Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
- And on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
- Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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