Support Coworkers through Changes

4 min

Don’t dismiss.

Support your coworkers

through further changes by being empathetic.

Even though you might mean well, saying things to your coworkers like, “Think happy thoughts!” isn't actually positive. 


Here are a few ways you can support your coworkers through further COVID-19 changes in your workplace.

Don’t minimize the other person’s fears.

Further changes can bring up negative emotions and fears. In most cases, their fears are probably legitimate.

Let’s say your office has eased some guidelines and isn’t requiring people to stay six feet apart if they’re wearing masks. Your coworker tells you they’re still nervous about getting sick at the office.

You can say something like, “I understand why you’re nervous.” Avoid telling them how they should feel about the situation.

Avoid problem-solving.

Trying to solve problems for others doesn’t help. Be a sounding board. Listen to what they’re saying and actively show that you’re listening to them.

Make sure they feel heard.

They might feel like they’re overreacting. Support them by validating their emotions and telling them that they’re not alone.

Maybe your team has been asked to work from home again because someone from your office got sick. Your coworker says they feel nervous about it because they struggled with their work-life balance the first time you were working from home.


You can show you're listening by saying something simple like, “I hear you.” Avoid trying to solve their problem by giving tips of how they can multitask or set a work schedule. Only offer advice if they ask for it.

Empathize with your coworkers’ concerns by: 

  • Not minimizing their fears.
  • Avoiding problem solving.
  • Making sure they feel heard.

Time for a quiz.

Your coworker tells you they’re worried because they’re having trouble keeping up with new company guidelines. What can you say to support them?

Quiz 1 of 1

What can you say to support them?

a
"I get that. You should meet with HR to go over the guidelines."
b
"I understand. We have to keep track of a lot of new guidelines."
c
Yeah, but you can write down the new rules to keep track."
d
"It's really not as much as you think."

The correct answer is B. “I understand. We have to keep track of a lot of new guidelines.”

Support your coworkers by avoiding trying to solve their problems. Listen to their concerns. If they ask for your advice, then you can give it.

Take the next step.

If you notice a coworker is struggling with office or protocol changes, simply ask them how they’re feeling. If they open up, listen to them, try to better understand their situation and make sure they feel heard by saying something like, “I understand what you mean.”

Lesson complete