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Aug. 17, 2023

Words for the Workplace: A Deep Dive into Emotional Communication at Work - Day 3 - Burnout

Words for the Workplace: A Deep Dive into Emotional Communication at Work - Day 3 - Burnout

Ever felt that choking burnout at work? That desolate feeling of exhaustion that seems to suck away all your energy, making the simplest tasks feel like a mountain? This is the episode you need. We've taken a deep dive into understanding burnout, investigating the roots of these emotions and how they manifest in our workplaces. With insights from Brene' Brown's book, "Atlas of the Heart", we'll guide you to recognize the signs of burnout and the importance of naming our emotions to provide the necessary support for ourselves and others.

Are you having a hard time managing expectations in your workplace? Not to worry. We've got tips on how to tackle this. We dive into the concept of situational leadership and its role in setting workplace expectations. With our in-depth analysis, you'll understand the varying development levels of employees and how different levels of support and direction from managers can make a significant difference. We also emphasize the power of connection in preventing burnout and the courage it takes to be vulnerable when setting expectations.

Lastly, we untangle the complex web of emotions that can lead to burnout when your efforts don't quite meet your expectations. We address the feelings of discouragement, resignation, perfectionism, as well as the impact of connection and disconnection. We candidly discuss how these emotions, if not carefully managed, can lead down a path to burnout. Learn how to express and manage these emotions, understand the role of shame in perfectionism, and how discussing connection and disconnection can foster a safer, burnout-free workplace. Trust us when we say, this is an episode you can't afford to miss - it's packed with wisdom and practical advice to save you from spiraling into burnout.

Laughter, Love, and Blessings,


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Speaker 1:

Burnout and compassion fatigue are results of doing good work, and it's nothing that you have done wrong, laura Howe. Talking about emotions can bring up a lot of emotions, and broaching this subject in the workplace can add another layer of complexity to the conversation, but it doesn't have to be that way. This mini series will cover five words or work categories that we can start bringing into the workplace to help communicate our emotions in more specific and helpful terms. Hello and welcome. To Connect the Dots, lead the Way. I'm your host, heather Valseric. I am a white female with short, strawberry blonde hair, I am wearing tortoise shell glasses and a purple shirt, and I am sitting in front of a teal wall with multiple pieces of art displayed. Welcome back to day three. I know that if you are listening to this in sequence or at the time that it's coming out, I am late. Today. I did not put this episode out in the morning, but it is coming out on day three. So here we are, there we go. I will be back for day four tomorrow and again on day five, so just anticipate that. You know they'll come out later in the day, probably. Anyways, it's day three and today's word category is burnout. Dun, dun dun, I don't have a fancy sound board to make that sound, so you get me. What is burnout exactly? So, according to psychology today, burnout is a state of emotional, mental and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress, and, though it's most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking or romantic relationships. I found the opening quote, the one by Laura, as I was reviewing a list of quotes that I had made over the past several years and when I read it the other day I was, I'll be honest, I was a little perplexed about it. But like it felt weird to say that burnout was a result of doing good work. And for a little additional context here, laura is focused on helping with burnout and compassion fatigue in the ministry, and so that kind of it kind of connects some dots there, hopefully. But it did, it did. It felt a little wrong, it felt a little odd to say that burnout was a result of doing good work. And I'm not saying that it's not because if you're pushing yourself to the point of of stress and burnout, there are some underlying things there that are pushing you to do that, and some of it is probably the fact that you're trying to do good work. You are out there trying to do your best, you're. You know we're gonna talk a little bit about perfectionism today. That may be some of the things that are contributing to this burnout. But when we think about the physical exhaustion that is brought on by prolonged or repeated stress in the workplace, this doesn't happen in a day. It's, you know, it happens over time. It's not a quick thing that happens. It's a gradual process, that kind of just snowballs really. So we need to find the words to say and share before we get to that point of burnout. So let's work backwards a little bit. Let's see what emotions that we can address before we get to that burnout stage. Now, all week I have been digging back into Renee Brown's book Atlas of the Heart. So I'm going to share a few more emotions from that book that we can name. And if we can name them early and we can seek out support, then we can help each other prevent burnout or at least lessen the overall effects. And so I've got several here and I didn't type them out, I've just I'm just going to read them from the book. So if you want to know what the book looks like. This is the book, so we're going to start with the first one I have on my list, which is stress let's see Storytime everybody. But she says so stressed is in the places we go when things are uncertain or too much, and so she says when. So we feel stressed when we evaluate environmental demand as beyond our ability to cope successfully. This includes elements of unpredictability, uncontrollability and feeling overloaded, and stressful situations can be both physiological, which is your body, or psychological, which is your mind and emotion reactions. And you know this is she gives this example in the book between being stressed and overwhelmed of when she worked in a restaurant, and so I'll talk about that in a second. Let me talk about the next word I want that I want to introduce is overwhelmed, and she says overwhelmed means an extreme level of stress, an emotional and emotional stress, and overwhelmed means an extreme level of stress and emotional and or cognitive intensity, to the point of feeling unable to function. And gosh, you know it's and she she also shares from Miriam Webster that overwhelmed is completely overcome or overpowered by a feeling or thought, and I think so. These two go hand in hand, right Stress and overwhelm. They're written about together in her book and because stress is like the first sign and when stress gets to be too much it then becomes overwhelm. And she, like she said, she talks in the book about the example of when she worked in a restaurant as a waitress and how, if you know, you were kind of, you were behind, you were behind, you know, you just needed some help. You could walk into the kitchen and be like, hey, you know, hey, I'm in the weeds, man, I'm in the weeds. And then somebody would be like, how can I help you? And you'd say, yeah, go to table. I need you know. Could you read tea, table three and five. Could you run bread to table seven and eight? You know just, can you help me out for a second, just help me catch up. And that's that's stress, right, it's when we've got a lot going on, right, we're feeling a little bit like, oh okay, maybe we should. If we can ask for help. I'm in the weeds, we can get a couple of people to just help support a little bit. We can lower that stress level. But then she talks about overwhelm in this example would be when she, when somebody would walk into the kitchen and they would just say I'm blown and in that just simply meant like you were just done, right, you needed, you needed a timeout. And she said, you know, if somebody walked into the kitchen and said that it would go quiet and immediately, like there would be people, somebody going to the host's stand what are her tables? Let me go fix them. Like the kitchen's over here looking at the table, like everybody's rallying around you to give you that space to go, take 10 minutes and regroup, right, let that overwhelm that extra that. What did she call it in here? That extreme level of stress to to subside and die down a little bit. And then in 10 minutes, right, you were expected to be ready to go. And I like this analogy because this is what happens, right, we, we feel that stress. You know you're, you're doing a project at work, you have a lot of deliverables and you've got so many things going on. And then it's like you're starting to feel overwhelmed and it's like, okay, wait a minute. Like I'm in the weeds, right, I got too much to do. Who can I call on to help? Like, who's there to help? And you know, maybe that's your team, maybe it's a peer, maybe it's your boss even just what can you do to try to lessen that load. And then, if you get to the point of being overwhelmed, because maybe you didn't stop at the stress moment, you didn't stop to say, hey, I need help, you ended up pushing through and you end up at overwhelm, where you are, you know beyond what is to say, again, the extreme level of stress in the overwhelm. This is when you got to take that time out, right, you got to say, hey, wait a minute, I've got to decompress here and maybe that looks like taking a day off work, maybe that looks like taking a half a day, or even, you know, maybe it's just talking to your boss and say I need an hour. Right, I need an hour, I need to, I need to walk away from this computer, I need to reset this mind because I am overwhelmed with everything that's going on. And if you can start to express those things, that that stress level, that feeling of overwhelm, if you can start to do that in the workplace, it can help. You know, it can help like not put you to the point of burnout. Right, you can, you may, that may still happen. I'm not saying it's not going to happen, because it does, but you're at least trying to, trying not to let it happen. Right, you're doing the work on the front end to help, you know, keep burnout at. You know, at away, I won't even say at arm's length, farther than arm's length, but you're, you know, you're trying to to keep these things in check. So, stress overwhelm. The next word I want to talk about is expectations, and let me find the definition Okay. So she says in here that when we develop expectations, we paint a picture in our head of how things are going to be and how they're going to look, which is true, right, that's what. What do we expect to happen from here? And then she says later in here communicating our expectations is brave and vulnerable and it builds meaningful connection and often leads to having a partner or friend we can reality check with, and I think this is key. This is why I wanted to bring this word in. This is something we need to really talk about and understand in the workplace a little bit more. Is the expectations, communicating the expectations? So, again, it's brave and vulnerable to communicate our expectations, and I'll give you an example, a real life, recent example honestly. So, in my job, I'm, you know, developing a program for a leadership development program, and you know I've only been here for a couple of months and it has been just a lot. There have been moments of overwhelm here, but when I think about, like, when my boss and I would have conversations and she would ask, like well, what do you need help with? Or you know, she would be giving me like this knowledge share of things that had happened before, right, trying to knowledge transfer, and it would be very overwhelming to me. And expectations were it's not that they weren't clear, but it was just it was hard because I was new, right, I didn't know how to really decipher these expectations. And so then I have a team and so I've done my best to try to like manage this fire hose for them, right, like just turn it on a little, turn it off, turn it on a little, turn it off and ease them into the program because it is a lot. So setting expectations for them has been a little different. And so I went through situational leadership to last week and it's that that's a whole other like podcast to talk about. But in situational leadership it talks about meeting the person where they are. So as an employee meeting, you know you have a development level, like where are you? And so as the manager or the leader, you need to match that person. So if there's somebody that is at a development level one, they're really excited about what they're doing, but they have no clue, they are inexperienced, don't know what they don't know, but they are excited to dive in, let's go. You know that's their attitude and as a, as a leader, you have to come to that. Come to that person with a very, very high level of direction. You have to give expectations. You can't just be like you got it, do go and do this thing. You know, and you know I would tell you. Know. I apologize to both my, to both the members of my team, and in one of our partners. I was like, listen, I have not done the best job at this. I've been leading you the way that you want to be led. I've been leading with my, with my green energy, my empathy, helping others type of energy. But I've been leading them as far as a development and situational leadership way that it's been more of a, an S four, an S three or S four, which is where someone is, they are, you know, they understand right. I don't have to give them a lot of direction. I don't have to give them a lot of support. It's just like, okay, we're going to do this, you good, all right, perfect, go, go, do and go conquer. And and I wasn't doing a good job of that, I was. They were at a D one level on a lot of things and I was giving them an S four leadership of, just, you know, low support, low direction, because that's where I was like, oh, they got it. But, in all honesty, they were excited and enthusiastic. They have a lot of skills that can transfer over to do this work, but they still need a lot of direction. They need me to set the expectations for them. And so, in that, in kind of coming together with my team, we had such a good meeting today where we really dove into situational leadership too and understanding this information, and so we can get on the same language, because it takes the ego out of a lot of things, because now we can set expectations, like I expect, as a leader, that if my, if my team member says hey, I am at a D2, right, I'm at a development level too, right, I'm a little confused, I'm a little frustrated. I feel like I know what I'm doing, but I don't know still. There's some things like I still need some support right and some direction. You know I have to be ready for that. I have to set the right expectations for where they are. And this helped as well because I had a meeting with my leader today that you know now, that you know, now that I can speak the language of situational leadership, we were able to go through some very specific things that I was like, hey, I'm at a D1 here, I'm super excited to learn about this thing and to be able to do it. And I got a couple skills I know that I can transfer over, but I don't know what to do here and I don't know what I don't know. So I need your help there. And we had such a productive conversation today about expectations, what she expects from me, what I expect from her, and that being those things being able to set those expectations, being brave and vulnerable, building that meaningful connection that Brunei talks about that can help again keep burnout in check. It can keep it off the radar because you have the clear expectations. You know what to expect. You know what to expect from above, you know what to expect from the people. Maybe you're leading and then that can help you manage the stress. It can help you manage the overwhelm For yourself and for your team. Because you've been clear about those expectations, I hope I didn't get anybody too lost on the situational leadership. If so, just let me know, just send me a message or a comment Then I'll make sure I make it, you know, clear as mud. Ah, it's. My stepfather used to say Okay. The next one I want to talk about is discouragement, and I forgot to tell this. So expectations and discouragement come from the places we go, when things don't always go as planned. Yeah, those are definitely the emotions there, aren't they? So discouragement. So she talks about in here that being discouraged she says discouraged, resigned and frustrated are also ways that we feel when things aren't going or didn't go as desired. And she said the simple ways to think about this is that, if you're disappointed, right, it didn't work out how I wanted and I believe the outcome was outside of my control. You know, somebody made a different decision, they went a different direction. Okay, not in my control, so I'm disappointed about it, regretful, it didn't work out how I wanted and the outcome was caused by my decisions, my actions are failure to act, right, like I regret eating the piece of cake, what you know, that kind of thing. Probably a bad example, but maybe you follow, hopefully, discourage so this is the specific word I want to talk about, but I'm losing my confidence and enthusiasm about any future effort. I'm losing the motivation and confidence to persist and so discouraged. This really, and even reading it now too, reminds me of situational leadership, because discouraged is losing confidence and enthusiasm in your effort. Right, that's something that if you're not letting your leader know that this is happening, they can't come match you with the right expectations, with the right support. So, knowing that, hey, I'm discouraged with this, this is the emotion that I'm feeling right now, I need to let my manager know. That is the key to again help stay, you know, keep stress and overwhelm and burnout away. Right, because you're being clear in those expectations. Then it says feeling discouraged and resigned are about effort rather than outcome. With discouragement, we're losing the motivation and confidence to continue with our efforts. With resignation, we've lost the motivation to keep trying, and so I think that that's again it's key to understand what, how to express this, because if you can't express your discouragement, if you can't express the unique, clear expectations or you can't express the expectations that you have, that's going to lead to the stress. And then, if you can't talk about the stress, that's going to lead to the overwhelm, and if you can't talk about the overwhelm, that's going to lead to the burnout. It's, it's a cycle, right? So, like I said before, we're working backwards to figure out what are the words, what are the emotions, what are the things that we need to be aware of, so we can speak up sooner, so we don't get to that place of burnout. I have three more. Yeah, four, two, three and a half. One of them is two that go together. The next one is perfectionism, which is a topic I can talk a lot about. Recovering perfectionist here. So perfectionism so in the book, this is in the section places we go when we fall short and she says shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. Perfectionism is not striving to be our best or working toward excellence. Healthy striving is internally driven. Perfectionism is externally driven by a simple but potentially all consuming question what will people think? And I'm going to read this this little bit longer section. It's on this really nice, beautiful quote page here too, but it says it may seem counterintuitive, but one of the biggest barriers to working toward mastery is perfectionism. In our leadership research, we've learned that achieving mastery requires curiosity and viewing mistakes and failures as opportunities for learning. Perfectionism kills curiosity by telling us that we have to know everything or we risk losing, or we risk looking less than. Perfectionism tells us that our mistakes and failures are personal defects, so we either avoid trying new things or we barely recover. Every time we inevitably fall short Again. Perfectionism is something that, like this book, is one of the things that really really spoke to me about perfectionism. This, this one and Dare to Lead. I will say Brene probably helps me the most in my recovering of perfectionism and the fact that perfectionism is that you know it's externally driven, right, what will people think? And so keeping that in check. You know, obviously you're going to need to get feedback on things. You're going to need to get feedback on stuff from your boss, from maybe your boss's boss, you know. You know there are things that right now, in the pipeline of my approvals, it goes to the chief human resources officer. That's like, ah, what? It's a little scary, right, but my motivation it's a healthy striving, it's internal. It's not a perfectionism. It's not a oh my gosh. What are they going to think? I got to make sure, no, that's not the environment that I'm in. Thankfully, I've been in that environment before and being able to name and separate it, to say, okay, what I'm doing right now is this internally driven or is this externally driven? Am I looking to say what will people think? Will I get the accolades? Will I get the awards? Will people like it? Well, some of that is okay. If that's all that you are consumed with, that's when it tips over into that perfectionism, like that bucket tips over. So just be really mindful of how you're thinking about, like the different things that you're doing, and if you're falling into perfectionism, because that causes stress, which causes overwhelm, which causes burnout, like you see, you're following me, I know you are Okay. The next one, slash two. It's connection and disconnection, and this is from the section places we go when we search for connection. Well, it seems fitting, doesn't it so? Connection, she says. Across my research, I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued, when they can give and receive without judgment and when they can derive sustenance and strength from the relationship I like this connection is our neurobiology. Now, disconnection. Disconnection is often equated with social rejection, social exclusion and or social isolation, and these feelings of disconnection actually share the same neural pathways as the feelings of physical pain. I love the neuroscience part of the stuff. So, in terms of how can understanding and talking about the connection and disconnection at work, how can that help us keep burnout at bay? Right, how can using these words and these ideas and expressing these things help us in the workplace is, if you're feeling that disconnect, if you feel like you are being excluded, if you feel like you are being isolated, it's having the ability to say wait, I feel disconnected from what's going on. What can we do? What can I do to get back? What can I do to feel that connection again? Because having the connection, those things come together and if you're connected with someone, then you're able to talk about these feelings. You're able to talk about how you feel maybe disconnected from somebody on the team, or how you feel like professionalism not that Perfectionism is causing you issues, or you're discouraged with something or you're not clear on expectations. So if you're able to build the good connections there, you're able to again express these things more openly to help you keep burnout at bay. Last one anger. I can't do my best like evil laugh or anything that feels weird. Okay, anger. So it says here. If you look across the research, you learn that anger is an emotion that we feel when something gets in the way of a desired outcome or when we believe there's a violation of the way things should be Absolutely. And she talks about anger is an action emotion. We want to do something when we feel it. You want to hit a wall, you want to throw something, you want to scream, you want to yell, you want to cry. You want to do something. It's an action. And then she says, though, anger is also a full contact emotion, because it activates our nervous system and can hijack our thoughts and behaviors. It can take a real toll on our mental and physical health. So there's another quote about anger that I want to talk about. Oh, there it is. Okay, I'm going to read this quote and then bring it back together, and then we'll be ready to wrap this up. Anger is a catalyst. Holding onto it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit. Externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection. It's an emotion that we need to transform into something life giving courage, love, change, compassion, justice. So anger if you can realize those moments, that the emotion of anger start to build right. If it's because you feel disconnected, if it's because you feel like somebody said something to you and so you're, the perfectionist side of your brain was like oh, you know, or you're, you're upset, right, and so you're discouraged because you know you didn't do something the way you wanted to to be done. Being able to name it, to call it, to say it, those are the things that, again, it helps lessen the stress so you don't get to overwhelm, so you don't get to burn out. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of words. I mean I could go through all like 82 or however many are in this book and relate them back to this honestly. But if we can begin to identify and name the emotions in the workplace, then we can be better prepared to support one another. And psychological safety, trust, connection those things play a big role for letting individuals speak these emotions and work through them in the workplace. If you don't have that space at work, I encourage you to see if your company offers an employee assistance program, often called EAP, those benefits can help you connect with a counselor. You may get a couple of free sessions or they may just be able to connect you with one. If you have insurance, you can maybe utilize those benefits and find a counselor near you. There are also places online to get support. The key is to find a group or a person that you can share these emotions with and work through them to develop a plan to avoid burnout. These are really key things and I think part of the reason I struggled last night to write this podcast and why I'm not recording it until tonight is because it's a subject near and dear to my heart. I've been there, I have been at the burnout, I've been in the pit of burnout and it's terrible. It's a terrible feeling. So being able to go back and talk to her, like working backwards and figuring out what are those emotions, what are the things that we can talk about in the workplace to help us avoid getting there, what are the signs that we can see in our peers or our leaders or our director report? What can we see that maybe can help keep them from the stress, the overwhelm and the burnout. If you have any additional words that we can use to help express our emotions before we get to burnout, I'd love to know what they are. I'd love for you to head over to my sub-stack the link is in the description to comment. I'd love to know your thoughts. What are their words or what things have helped you get through this Maybe get through stress and overwhelm to avoid burnout. Make sure you check out the links in the description to learn more about burnout from the Psychology Today article and Brene Brown's book Atlas of the Heart. I'll be back tomorrow with more words for the workplace, but until then, remember that you are loved, you are worthy and there are great things ahead for you in this life if you trust and believe in the Lord. We'll see you tomorrow. Bye, music 9.