By Ellen McGirt
May 23, 2017

A familiar form of tragedy played out last night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, as a bomb tore through the entrance to the Manchester Arena killing 22 people and injuring as many as 120 more. The Islamic State has claimed credit for the incident, the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005. The concert arena was filled with families; Grande’s key demographic are girls ages 8-15.

And now, once again, millions of people are walking into work processing a collective horror, feeling unsafe or under an oppressive veil of suspicion, worried what this may mean for the world, for their families, for themselves. What do leaders do now?

I first began thinking about leadership’s role in helping people process trauma last year, after the highly publicized police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the lone gunman attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Subsequent reporting has made it clear that people relish the opportunity to share their fears but also their stories. The decision to have these difficult conversations at work can be transformative for workplaces and the humans who inhabit them.

My recent profile of Tim Ryan, PwC’s U.S. chairman, made it clear that saying nothing is a missed opportunity.

Ryan sent a letter to employees on July 8, 2016, the day after a disturbed veteran killed five officers in Dallas during a protest over police shootings. Over the weekend, his inbox was flooded with gratitude. “The big theme in the responses was that all this stuff was happening and the silence around it was deafening,” he told Fortune. “If I’m coming to work—the place I spend more time than anyplace else, practically—and I’m not sure my son is safe, or I don’t know what to say to a black person, then people can’t realize their full potential.” The responses emboldened an anxious leadership team to hold in-person staff meetings to explore race and conflict; the meetings had no rules and no structure beyond some privacy measures and calls for respect. Now, those in-person conversations have become part of the way the culture operates. (I’ll have an important update on Ryan and his vision for creating inclusive organizations later this week.)

But what will today bring for you?

Reverend Mariclea Chollet, who is part of an organization that trains corporate, hospice and military chaplains, tells raceAhead that in times of trauma, front line leaders need to be prepared for fear to surface in unexpected ways, particularly if people are already feeling vulnerable at work.

“Managers need to generate a forum in the workplace for conversations that address issues of safety and foster resilience,” she says. “And they need to be open to the many different understandings of what safety might entail, and be willing to navigate those differences in a way that are inclusive for all.”

And those managers need a safe place to go if they’re unsure of how to handle a concern that arises.

Alison Davis-Blake, the Leon Festinger Collegiate Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, counsels against rushing past the difficult parts of any conversation. “Leaders make the mistake of wanting to put a band-aid on things, then trying to get everyone right back to work,” she says. “But a compassionate organization cultivates a sense of empathy for those who are suffering. And the first thing is for leaders to be present, talking, listening, and acknowledging that something specific has happened and that some people may have concerns.”

She recommends bookmarking the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations, which was created after the attacks of September 11th, specifically to help organizations respond to pain in more inclusive and effective ways.

But I’m also moved to repeat this simple advice shared by David Kyuman Kim, a professor of religious studies and American studies at Connecticut College: By giving genuine attention to the differences between us, people find the courage to talk about their lives. And that’s when connection happens. It remains the most effective thing I’ve learned to do when my own brain is fogged with fear.

“We have a responsibility to draw our attention to co-workers, to community members and ask a simple question – ‘how are you doing?’” says Kim. “And then listen, really listen, as if you don’t already know the answer.”

How are you doing? Let us know.