Our business clients are trying to stay focused on organizational improvement. However, it is evident that there are bigger forces at work here. We are all worried about our health and well- being in the face of this world-wide pandemic.
As Organizational Development professionals our role is to offer up solutions. We toss in an approach or a few probing questions and before we know it, the problem is resolved. Today, however, we may have met our match. There is no easy ideas that we can toss into the mix that will make this go away.
Our teams and colleagues are feeling a level of worry and grief that is in many cases off the charts. The most helpful response may be to offer a forum where team members can talk about what they are experiencing.
The Reverend Gale Robb recently delivered a sermon ( https://www.hohchurch.org/worship-music/worship-sermons/) where she suggested that we are dealing with the concept of lament. Lament is the result of people asking “why” and not getting an answer back. Lament is a biblical term which may apply to our daily working life as well.
Lament helps us move beyond our immobilizing individual fears. Reverend Robb says that lament requires us to reflect on the overall suffering of the world. She observes that the power of lament is that it provides “public witness of intense personal grief.” The conversation is about unbearable sadness. However, it is naming your grief and pain within community.
This is the power of taking time during our organizational meetings to allow our teams to express what they are experiencing during these unprecedented times. Reverend Gale quotes the late Eugene Peterson’s thoughts on why lament can transform in his book Leapt Over a Wall:
“Lament isn’t an animal wail, an inarticulate howl. Lament notices and attends, savors and delights – details, images, relationships. Pain entered into, accepted, and owned can become poetry. It’s no less pain but it’s no longer ugly. Poetry is our most personal use of words; it’s our way of entering experience, inhabiting it as our home, and not just watching it happen to us.”
What help can we offer to those experiencing worry and pain as a result of this pandemic? We can start by simply listening. Lead with suggested approaches and tools, No. Simply listen.
This blog does not reflect the views of my employer.