I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a particular intensity this week. Globally, we have the angst of the unfolding situation in the Ukraine, and its heartbreaking impact on millions of people. At a local level in Australia, entire communities are facing devastation from record-breaking floods. And of course, we are all still working our way through the ongoing personal, family and business fall-out from COVID.
These crises will touch each of us in unique ways, depending on our location and circumstances. There is also a good chance that someone you care about, or are responsible for, will be impacted significantly by these events.
Earlier this week, in response to the extraordinary Australian floods, the FRI team sent an update to our mailing list in Australia with a link to a free Crisis Support Kit. The response was overwhelming with a 55% open rate. Given what I see as a heightened sense of people wanting to help others, I thought it would be useful to share this information more broadly, and provide a few tips.
While most people of good conscience will be sending their thoughts and prayers, and in many cases, financial and material aid, there are some simple but powerful things you can personally do to help someone you know who has been significantly impacted by a crisis.
We are all familiar with the importance of giving first aid to someone in physical need. There is also a concept called 'psychological first aid', which is just as important. Here are some ways you can practice this with a friend, family member or colleague in need.
1. Respect that each person is an individual and will cope with a crisis in their own way. Be free of expectations or judgments, and help them to feel normal by accepting their reactions.
2. Ensure you are calm and are able to sit with any discomfort you may feel if strong emotions are expressed by the person. Staying calm and clear headed is useful in itself, and will help others to feel more settled.
3. Show interest, attention, and care. Offer to talk or spend as much time with them as they need, and maintain a confident, kind tone of voice.
4. Believe in them – that they are capable of rebuilding their business and their life. It is natural for someone who has been knocked down to lose hope or confidence in the future. Your quiet reassurance can make a big difference.
5. Find an uninterrupted time and place to talk about their circumstances and situation. Then explore ways they can systematically deal with specific challenges, perhaps with your help.
6. Acknowledge that the stresses and difficulties they have been through, and are facing, will take time to resolve. And there will be support available as they work through these.
7. Two useful questions you can ask are, “How can I help?” and “What do you need from me?”
By the way, here are a few things to avoid:
Don't tell them they will be okay and they should just “get over it”.
Don't project your own personal experiences and opinions onto them. While you may think you understand, it's quite possible you don't.
Don't give advice or take action without first asking for permission or checking this is wanted.
Don't tell them they were lucky it wasn’t worse.
If you would like access to more detailed strategies on how to help franchisees or others in crisis you can download the free Crisis Support Kit here. We also have several training programs that equip franchisors and franchisees in how to provide emotional as well as practical support to others. These include our Culture of Franchising Workshop for support office staff; our Psychology of Positive Mental Health presentations; and our Field Manager Bootcamp.
In 1970 Stephen Stills wrote a famous song, Love the One You're With, inspired by a frequent remark by Billy Preston (a famous musician who worked with the Beatles). While it's good to send thoughts and prayers, and to be generous with donations, don't underestimate the power of being available with an empathetic ear when the opportunity arises. Or as Stephen Stills implores, love the one you're with.
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