Inside Disruption Blog

A Voice of Calm in the Midst of Chaos

Jeff Gorter, MSW, LCSW
January 15, 2021

 

 

The recent political unrest that took place at our nation’s Capitol and other locations are contributing to the already existent levels of anger, disorder, and panic. As a nation, the continued level of unrest has left our collective hearts wounded. As we continue to navigate these challenging times, our mission at R3 Continuum remains the same: to be a voice of calm in the midst of chaos. Below we share some concepts and themes effective leaders have found helpful in crafting their response to current events, in the hopes of lowering the tensions and restoring constructive discourse.

 

In this time of stress and uncertainty, business leaders need to know that their employees are seeking both physical and psychological safety. Understandable reactions may mimic a fight/flight/freeze response, also known as the “survival mechanism” that is triggered when there is a real or perceived threat to one’s safety. Ideological arguments and debates at the worksite will understandably add to a sense of risk and threat, a dynamic that can become more pronounced and can lead to a potential for violence. It is the leader’s responsibility to foster safety, calm and connectedness. By focusing on the common reactions of all employees, leaders can help to mitigate conflict and restore calm.

 

Common themes to anticipate:

 

  • Concerns about the safety and security of the country, their communities, and their loved ones
  • An anxious anticipation of what may come next in this unsettled situation
  • Anger toward others with differing ideologies or perspectives
  • Confusion about what they can do to help resolve the situation
  • Overwhelming sadness at the current state of affairs

 

Leadership Strategies

 

  • Self-awareness is critical – leaders must take time to consider how their own identity, belief systems and biases may impact how they support their employees, who all come from varying backgrounds and experiences. Assuming that everyone ascribes to a single viewpoint (especially the leader’s) will negate a leader’s effectiveness and “neutralizes their neutrality” in the eyes of their team
  • Be mindful of word choice at this critical moment. While we can’t be overly scrupulous to the point of silence, an effective leader is aware that their words may be interpreted by individuals of different backgrounds and ideologies. Avoid trigger words loaded with meaning for one side or the other, including “patriot,” “riot,” “coup,” “mob,” “thugs,” etc.
  • Effective leaders avoid a focus on opinions on the event (as the old saying goes, “everyone has one”), and move more toward shared personal experiences, understandable reactions and positive coping
  • Leverage support solutions available. R3 Continuum has a number of options that can help with whatever challenges you may be experiencing. For employee teams that are experiencing anger and animosity towards one another, a facilitated discussion can help. With employee stress, grief, trauma, and other emotional impacts our disruptive event management, telephonic support, and wellness outreach solutions can have a measurable impact in helping to enhance resilience and lead to a thriving workforce. For organizations concerned about continuing unrest and potential violence, we can help develop crisis plans and assess your potential security needs.

 

As these events continue to unfold, the courage, compassion and skill of wise leaders will be much in demand. R3 Continuum will do everything we can to support you as you serve in this highly charged and stressful circumstance. For more information or for further consultation contact us.

Jeff Gorter, MSW

VP, Crisis Response Clinical Services

Jeff Gorter, MSW, is VP, Crisis Response Clinical Services for R3 Continuum. Mr. Gorter brings over 29 years of clinical experience including consultation and extensive on-site critical incident response to businesses and communities. He has responded directly to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and the Newtown Tragedy,Orlando Tragedy, and Las Vegas Tragedy. He has conducted trainings and presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, the World Conference on Disaster Management, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Meeting, Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) Annual World Conference and at other state and national venues on a variety of topics. Mr. Gorter also currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Western Michigan University in the MSW Graduate Program.