Creating Meaningful Conversations for people to re-engage in the workplace

We’ve all been talking about our lives in the past 4 months of living with COVID, and as well as the more recent national protests about racial injustice.  We have a hunger to make sense of our experience, so we can better deal with the sense of upheaval, and grief, and with the uncertainty about the future.

I’ve facilitated several conversations about our “pandemic journey”, giving people space to reflect on their experience, and to develop more compassion for what they, and others, are going through.  I used several diagrams to enable meaningful conversations.  There were 2 journey maps, one representing where participants were 6 weeks ago and another for where they are today.  People put a gold star or a red heart on the images that most resonated with them:

  • Winnie the Pooh afraid of getting out of bed
  • Munch’s Scream
  • Loss of any normal sense of time. As Joyce Carol Oates says: “Each day feels monumental and tomorrow seems totally unpredictable”
  • Alice in Wonderland, confused about which direction to go
  • Sense of emerging opportunities
  • Sense of calm thru meditation.
  • Gratitude
  • Seeing the light emerge from the darkness

In the “6 weeks ago” diagram, participants located their stars and hearts on the images mostly on the left side. In the “today” picture, as you can see, people located themselves more towards the right side, which represents a shift towards opportunity and possibility, as well as some uncertainty about the future (the “?”).

As I believe that our experience isn’t linear, I created and presented this clock to capture the reality that we might feel any number of these emotions during any given day:

I actually believe it’s a “both/and” – that is, we might feel like we’ve been on a linear journey, while also experiencing the circular sense of various emotions during the day – and that resonated with the participants.  Reader, you can participate too.  As you look at these maps, what resonates for you about your own journey?

Lastly, I used this quote  from Alice in Wonderland to represent the next part of the journey: “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” 

(Thanks to Tim Sloane for capturing this image on a wall in Seattle!)

We’re being told that we can’t go back, and many of us already have a sense of an internal shift, even while we don’t know what’s emerging.  We’re often not aware of the transitions that we’re going through until after-the-fact, when we look back at where we came from.  My program invited people to think about what’s emerging for them and how they can be open to that emergence.

Workshop participants reported that these were deeply meaningful conversations and that they were grateful for the time to reflect and connect.  Some people shared that it felt like a healing experience.  As a facilitator and coach, I love creating safe spaces for reflection, where we can find empathy and compassion for ourselves.  I can’t think of a better way to get people to re-engage than by having a similar conversation.

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