Work-related fears have disappeared from the charts. These four steps will help.



Recession, unprecedented unemployment, a pandemic – these days there is a lot to worry about. In fact, researchers who monitor public sentiment on Twitter have found that 2020 is by far the worst year since observations began in 2008 (not the best year itself).

Every week, I interview on LinkedIn Live as part of’s new video interview series of authors, business leaders and other thinkers who can help us learn how we can just get a little better at what we do. Recently, New York Times bestselling author Chester Elton, co-author of All In, The Carrot Principle and Leading with Gratitude, joined me to give me four tips on how we can manage our fears – and those of others – more wisely in the workplace.

Overcommunicating. “When there is a communication gap, that gap is filled,” says Elton, “and it is filled with rumors, innuendo and fear. One of the best things executives can do right now is to communicate constantly”.

You may think you’re keeping your colleagues and employees informed, but with so much noise and uncertainty out there, the messages probably won’t get through as well as you’d like. In fact, there is a saying in the world of politics: Voters need to hear your name seven times before they even remember it. Similarly, whether you are announcing a new policy or initiative, or simply want to reassure people, you need to talk about it and explain it several times. Elton adds: “We coach many executives and say, ‘If you think you’re communicating too much, you’re probably right.

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Increase your gratitude. It is easy to make fun of the mantra to “just be grateful” or “count your blessings”. But Elton recommends something much more subtle and powerful: Express your gratitude to your colleagues and co-workers in a personal way so that they understand that it is not just empty words.

“When family is at the top of the list of motivators,” says Elton, “one way to express gratitude is to give people time off. If someone wants a lot of autonomy or wants to work on a new project, this is the way to express appreciation and gratitude. Get to know your people well enough so that it doesn’t look like a fake. And by the way, if you think people get too much [gratitude], trust me, they don’t. You can’t overdo it.”

Assume a positive intention. In chaotic times like these, when many people may be working from home while managing virtual learning for children or caring for sick relatives, sometimes balls can be dropped. Of course, we don’t want to lower our standards permanently – but when faced with special challenges, it’s a virtue to give others a little more leeway.

“If people don’t respond or the project is perhaps a little late,” says Elton, “don’t assume a negative intention – that people will screw up. Assume that people are doing their best and things are moving forward. You have to have a little more patience,” says Elton. This benevolent attitude will be rewarded later in the form of employee retention and the realization that as human beings we all have our ups and downs.

Tell your own story. It can feel very vulnerable for employees to express the challenges they face. Elton says that the antidote is for leaders to be the first to stand up. “The first way we’ve found to overcome these barriers is for leaders to tell their own stories about their fears,” he says. “That gives everyone else on their team permission to express them as well.

It is a strong statement when you show employees that they will not be punished for


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