Mental Health

Self-Care at Work: How to Professionally Communicate your Needs

(Written by Daniel Space— LinkedIn)

Given the recent events, it can be very difficult to put yourself in the mindset of work. Attending regularly scheduled business meetings, kickoff calls, or team meetings while worried and occupied about the reality of events taking place right now is very natural and understandable.

It can almost seem shocking or strange that some employees are not as concerned as others, so it's important that you feel safe communicating clearly and directly.

Your mental health should always be your priority, and luckily, most managers can be empathetic as long as you communicate with them - it can sometimes feel stressful or anxious to try and communicate your needs with your managers and team, so here are a few scripts that you can think through and personalize that will help express your need for space, distance, time or boundaries.

Messages and conversations like this tend to be much more successful when containing the below elements:

  • Communicating your needs to your manager in a clear way
  • Speaking from the "I" voice
  • Acknowledging that you are proud of your work product and brand and don't want to be seen as penalized for being distracted by real events
  • Phrasing requests in a way that opens feedback and response
  • Be clear in what you can and can't offer.
  • It's much more beneficial to be direct and open with your needs vs. vague or general comments.

Here are some scripts that you can use if you’re not sure where to start:

- "Unfortunately, my morale and engagement are not optimal because of (reason: Washington DC events, COVID, family issues) - while I will be available for any urgent work issues, I'd really like not to attend any meetings for today/tomorrow, etc."

- "I find I can't concentrate right now, and I don't want to be perceived as not helping or responding. I would like to take a day off so I can focus on myself"

- "For the remainder of the week, I'd like to only attend urgent business meetings. Can I have your support in that?"

- "Do you think we can schedule some time during the next team meeting as a safe place to talk about what is happening and how it impacts myself and other members of the team?"

- "I want to express to you the truth about how I'm feeling and how it's impacting my job and concentration. Can we have a private call when you have time?"

- "I have several pending business items, but I am unable to give my full concentration- can I have your help in prioritizing what should be done and what can be rescheduled or handled differently?"

- "For the week, I will be sure to be available for (this time in the mornings), but I will not be available after (this time). Does that work for you and the team?"

- "While I will be available through email, I'd like to turn off my Slack/IM service for (this amount of time) so that while I can focus on my large-scale work, it will prevent interruptions. I can set an away message on slack, so nobody is left hanging."

You should also contact your local Benefits or HR person to see if there are EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) options to pursue.

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About the writer, Dan Space:

“As someone with nearly 2 decades of HR experience for big media, entertainment, and tech companies (designing and building interview models, compensation design and organization strategy), I have a wealth of information on how to succeed in Corporate America and navigate your career in a way that is fulfilling and lucrative.

From Resumes to Interviews, Compensation Negotiation to Promotions, whatever you need help with - send me a note!

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn, so you can see my experience as well as take advantage of my network.”