One doesn’t need a great deal of insight or experience to know that suffering is among us. At an early age we learn that much of the agony we will experience as a human being will come at the hands of those we love and who, in turn, love us.
News stories of powerful people wounding their families through illicit affairs or outrageous behavior are all too common. Even caregivers and institutions trusted to provide custody and protection for the most vulnerable among us are sometimes guilty of wounding their patients or clients, both emotionally and physically.
Workplaces are not immune to wounding others as anyone who has been the recipient of a boss’s public tirade or a team’s lack of inclusion will attest. Leaders have a special obligation to provide safe environments where employees can flourish. Sometimes this is as simple as ensuring that non-discriminatory policies and practices are congruent. Other times the effort is more challenging as competing behavioral styles, personalities, and diverse opinions clash in the boardroom and on the production floor.
It has been more than 40 years since I left home and the passing of time has not always healed every wound. Like you, it is easy to carry resentment over past decisions or to be angry about some perceived injustice. Sometimes our pain becomes fear or anxiety that paralyzes us from moving beyond the wounding to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. A few of us may be known to complain about the unfair circumstances that life has brought our way.
Leaders should model a healing approach to the wounds that frequent our enterprises. We can…
- Acknowledge our own pain,
- Admit our mistakes,
- Forgive others for behaving badly, and
- Move beyond our need for acceptance.
Leaders can become empathetic listeners, offer nurturing feedback, and regularly praise the work of others. A modern-day workplace doesn’t need to become a therapist’s office but it should be a sanctuary offering healing and hope for the wounded who work, live, and play there every day.