Easing the pain


Working in the corporate world can be painful sometimes. It’s a slice of life, after all, and life isn’t all lollipops and roses. In my own long career in organizations, I dare say that there were times of ecstasy – and times of agony. As a leader, you can ease the pain when it happens to others.

It takes a caring attitude, an ability to observe and notice, and a willingness to reach out when employees are in pain in order to help. Because our organizations are prone to be unsupportive of overt emotions, you may have to look hard for behaviors that are the result of pain, anger, frustration, etc. Who’s not working up to their usual stellar performance? Who’s failing to get things done? Who looks tired or dejected?

If you’ve created the kinds of relationships that you should have, it’s the right thing to do to reach out and ask if someone is okay and if there is anything you can do to help. Their productivity may go up just knowing that someone cares.

In a general sense, there are things you can do every day that eases pain. When I talk to employees I hear some things that the leader may not. Here’s a short list of things in the workplace that I’ve been told cause pain and what you can do to ease it:

Lack of appreciation: Many leaders don’t take the time or make the effort to express their heartfelt appreciation to those they lead. A message to the team as a whole “Thanks for all you’ve done” without the heart in it – may not be enough. Seek out individuals and let them know that you are grateful for their specific contributions on a regular basis.

Challenging barriers: Sometimes your staff members may feel like there are things in the way that prevent them from doing their work. A good question to ask when you hear their frustration is “How can I help remove barriers for you?”. There are often things you can do that they can’t. Step up and help to make things easier for them when you can.

Unrealized potential: Employees may feel as if they are underutilized in their current positions. Everyone has dormant potential waiting to be let loose; for many, it’s painful not to be able to use their full abilities. Watch for those who may have superstar potential and drive. Look for opportunities to stretch their ability and coach them along the way.

Feeling unheard: Feeling like they’re not being heard is common. You can remedy this by listening deeply. You must learn to feel free to keep your mouth closed and your ears open while you stay present and just listen. Sometimes this is all that’s needed, but you can ask “What would you me to help with?” just in case they need more from you.

A little bit of caring goes a long way for a leader and organizational results. Watch for those who need an extra dose of your consideration and do what you can to help them to ease the pain.




I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

2 comments on “Easing the pain

  1. Thank you for this, Mary Jo. The workplace is turning into a place of square pegs and round holes, overwhelming project loads with expectations of more, and bullying. I try every moment to be the bright spot, the smile, the one who spreads geniune care. I am only one person and I am not in a leadership position. I wish leaders would follow your wise counsel.

  2. Jane, thanks for caring and trying to make things better in your workplace. You are a leader, whether you recognize it in yourself or not.

    I can assure you that most of my writing is inspired by the leaders I coach; so there are many, many others out there like you.

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