All of us have had a friend or acquaintance at work who was going through a tough time - an illness or a loss in their family. Perhaps it’s someone you work with every day but are not close friends with, or the person you see every day working in the cafeteria. You want to do something for them but feel at a loss as to what would be appropriate. You may hesitate to do or say anything at all because you don’t want to be intrusive as you don’t have a close relationship with them.
It is natural to feel this way but it is also important to remember that reaching out and showing someone that you are thinking about them can never have negative consequences. While these are people that are not necessarily part of your inner circle, they are part of your everyday life and your daily interactions with them are still meaningful and can make a positive impact. Rather than not do anything because of your own discomfort, there are many small gestures you can do which aren’t intrusive, yet show that you care:
- When you know someone is going through a hard time and you see them in a meeting or a public place, instead of just thinking about them, reach out to them in a private setting. Send a private message via email or text.
- Ask them to go for coffee or lunch, or a quick walk.
- Bring them their favorite coffee, drink or treat you know they love.
- Offer to be a sounding board to listen to what they are going through.
- Ask them how they are managing balancing their workload with everything else that is going on. And, offer concrete ways you can help to lessen their burden.
- If it is someone who has passed away, make a memorial donation in their honor, or if it is someone close to them who has passed away, reach out to them to express your condolences.
- The key is to be brave and reach out.