People skills for digital workers
22-23 Sept. 2014, The Barbican, London

Falling apart mindfully: how to keep working in times of crisis

portrait of Keri Maijala

Keri Maijala (USA)

At some point everyone experiences a personal crisis. You may even be in the middle of a meltdown now. But we think we aren’t allowed to show human frailty. At all costs, we must keep up appearances: in social situations, online, and at work. Your crisis won’t show up at a convenient time: you won’t be able to take time off to recover. You’ll need to feel the feels while maintaining the impression of a confident, trustworthy professional. I’ll teach you what worked for me: giving myself specific times to fall apart, to let myself be human. It’s easier to say to yourself, “I just need to make through the next couple of hours,” than, “I have to be perfect all of the time.”

You also need to open up to colleagues about what you’re going through, choosing when and how based on your relationship. You’ll realise that you aren’t the only person going through crisis. You’ll give colleagues benefit of the doubt. A crabby email might be the result of a sick child at home. Missed deadlines could be the result of waiting for biopsy results. The thing is, you just never know. And giving colleagues the space to talk about what’s going on creates relationships based on empathy.

As time passes, you’ll find you need less time to fall apart, creating room to figure out how to become yourself again. Eventually, work-you and home-you will merge, and you’ll remember who you are and who you can become.

About Keri

Keri is a content strategist in Mountain View, California. She’s been working in user experience since 1998, helping companies like eBay, PayPal, and Intuit find and use their voices. You can usually find her on Twitter as @clamhead, but if she’s not there, check the line for Space Mountain.

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Jonathan Kahn

Jonathan Kahn

David Caines

David Caines

branding and illustration
Rhiannan Walton

Rhiannan Walton