How to stay human in a crisis?

Dr. Damjana Pondelek is a strategic advisor to decision-makers, management and the exposed. It helps companies in crisis situations to overcome difficulties. He advises management and the team on how to work with people, achieve better results, how to build trust, respect and security in work environments. How to make bosses leaders. This is serious and responsible work. She caught our attention with interesting posts on Facebook, with conversations with the boss. In it, he deals every day with the most current topics that plague us in this corona time, and encourages us to remain human.

We find ourselves in a general crisis: health, economic, but also political. How to find yourself, how to get over it?

The crisis is destroying everything that was not stable. Our operations, business, values, relationships, leadership. Everything that was fragile and vulnerable is now breaking down. It is now really difficult for collectives and families who have been injured before. In times of uncertainty, we need stable leadership the most. We need people who bring peace with their empathy and understanding of the situation. Peace in a state of emergency so that in a crisis that always takes something, we can at least keep ourselves. Every crisis, and this one in particular, is also a crisis of values, trust, leadership and humanity, so we all lose in it. We humans need peace and hope now.

But how and where can a family find someone to lead it – inside or outside?

We find peace in ourselves. In doing so, we must not allow external factors to continue to upset us, to bombard us. That is why it is good to replace television, computers and telephones as often as possible with conversation, reading, and activities that fill us. It is now important that we try to be lenient with ourselves and the people we love, with whom we are professionally or socially connected.

What is the biggest challenge for all of us now?

The challenge is to stay human. When everything runs smoothly, we are more easily generous. However, when the situation distresses us, it takes a conscious decision of each of us to stay human, to open our eyes and see a neighbor who is in need, an elderly person who is alone …

From some comes goodness, from others something worse …

Crisis situations really awaken the best or the worst in us. What will prevail is our decision. It is important that we all come out of this crisis as whole as possible. And that we do not break relations on this path, which is what happens in crisis situations.

These days, we often hear the word distrust. We don’t trust the government, for example, and then we don’t follow its actions.

Trust is gained through responsible work, through responsible, honest communication. Trust is not something that can be coerced, commanded, commanded by action. Trust happens when we build an environment of respect and security. When people feel goodwill, transparency, credibility, reliability and predictability in our actions, actions and explanations. When the leaders are our role models and when we see the light at the end of the tunnel, in the hope that this light is not a train. We will have to learn to live with the virus without taking away people’s joy in life, closeness, relationships, dignity, hope.

What about the words kindness and respect? Some European and world leaders are kind, they ask people to come together, to try to take action, and we have threats, chewing, sowing fear.

Leaders need to understand that this is not a war. The virus is not an invisible enemy and we humans are not soldiers who obey orders. It is necessary to withdraw this military jargon and trust the people and stand by their side, and it will work.

You help companies out of crises, why do they call you most often?

Most problems do not come from the outside, as you might expect, but we create them ourselves in work environments. We most often meet in bad stories because of wrong business decisions, leadership, relationships, lost reputation, trust – all this is in the hands of management. It is therefore important that we support leaderships so that they can lead better and collectives so that they can work better together. To help organizations identify their risks and vulnerabilities and thus prevent any serious story. Otherwise we have to solve it.

That doesn’t go fast, does it?

Twice as long as relationships have broken down, it takes to lay a healthier foundation and make changes come to life. Now, in the name of the epidemic, many things are collapsing, and that is a great danger. It will take a long time to restore trust and return to inner peace.

Will any things be destroyed permanently, irreparably, during this time?

Many sole proprietors have been building their business story for years, now closing their doors. No one will be able to reimburse them for this loss. Some will have their mental health deteriorating – it will take years for them to recover. Because the focus is on one disease, many people with other diseases do not come to the doctor in time – their disease will be more difficult to treat or they will lose the fight against it. The elderly die on their own, with the feeling that they are forgotten by everyone. Children from vulnerable families who have lost touch with school, contact with themselves, hope for the better – this is irreparable. We are taking the future away from many people, that is a great pity. Who will be responsible for it? Policy is changing, the consequences remain.

Politics is really changing, and in times of crisis.

In Europe, we lack politicians who would also be visionaries who, in Plato’s sense, would work for the good of society, the people. Instead, we have in many places a small, contentious, introverted policy that cannot look beyond one term. We will live with the consequences of today’s decisions for decades to come.

You say we don’t master communication that doesn’t hurt, that we still shout at each other, both at home and in business. I totally agree with that. We should not allow this.

If we shout – and there is a lot of that in our country – we do not solve anything, and our fellow human beings are greatly affected. What happens when we humiliate everyone around us in this way? We hurt them, they will no longer be willing to cooperate, they will no longer trust, they will no longer strive, we take away their own strength, self-esteem and dignity. We have to learn how to be professionals. People make us angry, they have different views from ours, they act differently than we expect, but we must be aware that we are different people, that everyone carries their backpack throughout life, that there are beautiful and less beautiful things in it, bitter and difficult trials. It is important that we learn respect and tolerance for people. Who annoys us the most? Those who are different from us get on our nerves, those who are similar to us as well. (laughter) Which means it’s a matter of a conscious decision that I will be a man to my co-workers, my people, that I will show them respect and not hurt them with my words and actions.

You stated that in companies, respect is what connects us, and in the family, it is love.

It’s true, we both seek, we need, we try to experience. Within the family, we are hopefully connected by love. In the work environment, however, we need respect that enables coexistence and cooperation. It is both a valuable help to us in difficult times as it allows us to persevere and be able to move forward together.

How your “boss” was born, notes, stories on Facebook to which you add the hashtag # sad humor. And they’re really a little fun, but also a little sad. And they invite you to think.

My husband and I work together, and our mission is to help build an organizational culture of trust in work environments – for better results and fewer serious stories. For where there is trust, there is no fear that cripples, as they are not at home at the same address, or one or the other prevails in the organization. Building trust is now a great challenge in many places, because frightened, wounded, angry people come to work, so it is a great challenge for managers to reassemble their colleagues every morning, to restore their trust and peace. Namely, many people follow the catastrophic news all day long, thinking about it, losing strength, meaning, hope. The task that we have not done at the societal level, to restore peace and trust to people, is thus transferred to work environments. In order for people to be able to do their job at all in these circumstances, they need reliable, stable leadership. We need to support management and teams so that we can all come out of this situation as whole as possible. Unfortunately, this option is not available on social networks, I can only relieve my friends to smile at least from time to time in this difficult situation. And so stories are created about a disgusting, cold boss who is the exact opposite of what we teach leaders. Leaders are able to empathetically lead their people, connect them to common goals, awaken the best in people, and bosses just threaten and demand. And I drew such a boss.

So has your “virtual boss” taken over the function of reassuring people?

The boss in my dialogues can’t and doesn’t want to. His superpower is that he is embittered and that at every step life is embittered by everyone around him. To the extent that we laugh at it, even though that smile is often bitter. His dialogues and quarrels with himself, the world and his colleagues try to relieve us and invite us not to take the current situation as fatally as it is presented to us every day. If we laugh together, even through tears, there is less fear and uncertainty.

The manager is fighting for his workers, you stated. But some bosses are fighting more for their, sorry, asses.

(laughter) The boss will always fight only for himself. The leader, however, understands that he is not the star, but helps co-workers to glow, work together for common goals, create beautiful results. He awakens the best in them, he can also understand and forgive mistakes. But the boss only fires people. Scream and weigh. (Laughter) That’s why we develop leaders in organizations.

Is that hard?

Once the realization matures that it is time, and the leadership allows itself to be helped, we are well on our way. Unfortunately, this realization often matures only in severe stories, difficult trials. As long as it is not absolutely necessary, we take comfort in the fact that working with people can wait. Then, at some point, everything falls apart because we left people aside. Business, jobs, reputation, lost trust need to be saved in an instant, and then it is clear that things need to be put on a healthier footing. Once we resolve the crisis situation together, it is time for systemic change. It is easier for management and co-workers to decide for them – and it is not good to procrastinate – in peacetime. In a crisis situation, however, there is no other choice. Most bosses, unfortunately, transform into leaders only after a difficult school that is painful for everyone. It is the same with the organizational culture of the company. Of course, we do not need a crisis situation and a difficult test to put leadership, cooperation and relationships on a healthier footing, to strengthen processes, organizations and people.

So with the right, smart grips yes? Heal families, businesses, the country?

It is important that we meet on time. It needs to start before everything collapses, otherwise it is a fire pit and everything needs to be rebuilt. But yes, of course yes. When management’s situation or self-realization leads to the point that they are willing to accept help – this is also a challenge for bosses – and the leader knows that help is “going for power” – then these processes can begin and any organization or community can be built on a healthier footing. Of course, with the awareness that there is no more room for shortcuts, manipulations, but only for professionalism, honest work, care for the good of society and people, to strengthen respect, trust and security. That’s when trust happens. This leads to the results we want and need. It doesn’t go overnight, but it’s worth it.

Read more interesting content in the new issue of Zarja Jana magazine.

Zarja Jana


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