Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

13 Ways to Be More Collaborative

Article submitted by Amy Sargent.

Boy, are people cranky these days! And for good reason, right? Our norms have been turned upside down, and, combined with fear, uncertainty, financial strain, and worry — it’s a sure recipe for contentiousness.

Just take a look at just about any social media page. People can post the most innocent of comments — or not — but no matter, there’s always someone, or some-many, who will jump on their soapbox and argue, call names, sling insults, and make snide remarks, sometimes just to be disagreeable. Why is it when things get tough, we tend to throw teamwork and collaboration out the window?

Some would say it’s human nature and can’t be helped.

“Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are more bitter than to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.” — Charles Buxton

Oxford Language Dictionary defines human nature as “the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans.” Why, then, if it’s something we all share, are some people kindhearted, uplifting, and encouraging, while others seem prone to be the thorn in everyone’s side?

It comes down to choice.

Contrary to popular belief, we get to choose how we react to the emotions we are feeling. Every single one of us can either choose the path of collaboration, or, decide to go down the path of contentiousness. We have the choice to either fall victim to our emotions and allow them to take us down the spiral of negativism, cynicism, and criticism, or use them as a vital source of data which can lead to greater connectivity and cooperation with others, leading to healthier, happier relationships.

No matter your circumstances, no matter how tough things are, no matter how utterly frustrated you may feel, you get to choose how you respond.

Experiencing negative emotions is normal. But we don’t have to act out on them. So why does it feel like poor behavior sometimes is an automatic reaction, one that can’t be helped? The answer has to do with how our brains are wired. When presented with stimuli which trigger a strong emotion, the signal first arrives to the emotional part of your brain, and communicates that you either need to fight or take flight, without delay. It takes another six seconds for the signal to hit the rational part of your brain and allow you to use reason in choosing your next steps.[How to best manage the six seconds that can change your life (for the worse)].

If you choose to react within those first six seconds, chances are your choices may be clouded by the hot emotions you’re feeling. Those are the moments when we shoot back that feisty text, fire off a heated email, or exchange hurtful words in a disagreement. This out-of-control response is a result of an amygdala hijack, a term coined by Daniel Goleman in 1995. The amygdala, the part of the brain designed to respond quickly to  threats, in order to protect us from danger, can interfere with our functioning in our day-to-day lives where perceived threats are now rarely a matter of life and death. 

If we delay reacting by just a few more moments, allowing the brain to take the emotional stimuli and process it with the rational part of our brain, we have a much greater likelihood of making a thought-out, cooperative and productive decision. [Amygdala Hijack and the Fight or Flight Response]

Easier said than done.

Becoming a team player, and leading others toward collaboration, takes emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, other awareness, and relationship management, to pull it of. These traits often don’t come easy. But with some focused effort and the help of a social + emotional intelligence coach, you can take steps in a new direction.

If working collaboratively with others is not one of your strong points, here are some things to try to work toward  a more cooperative approach:

  • Hit pause. When you feel your temper rising, take a break. Inhale deeply, step away, take a walk — anything to give your brain a chance to bring reason to the table.
  • Look for opportunities to team up with others. Instead of going it alone on your next project, find a few others to collaborate with and let them know you’d really appreciate their input.
  • Enhance your listening skills. When others offer their insights, even if you don’t like what they’re saying, tune into what they’re trying to communicate and take a genuine interest in learning more. Understanding their motivations may help you be more open to a differing viewpoint.
  • Keep others informed as to your goals, projects, timelines, and successes along the way. Communicating with others helps them feel like part of the team.
  • Be sure to say thank you to those who are working with you. Gratitude goes a long way in building rapport with others. Some people thrive on public recognition while others appreciate a private “thanks”. Learn your team members and be generous with your appreciation.
  • Lead without dominating. Seek out ways you can ask for input and allow for time and space for others to come up with suggestions, ideas, etc…especially those who may be quieter or less assertive.
  • Give validation freely. Letting others know their input is valued, even if the ideas presented are not ones you’d necessarily incorporate, goes a long way in building a cooperative spirit. An old proverb says, “In a multitude of counselors there is safety.” A variety of ideas, even the ones which sound crazy or far-fetched, can contribute to finding successful ones.
  • When conflict arises, attempt to resolve it sooner than later. Unresolved conflict can eat away at cohesion. Though avoiding hard conversations may seem easier in the moment, they’ll need to take place eventually. The sooner you can resolve disagreements, the sooner you can move forward toward your goals.
  • Treat everyone with respect and courtesy. There’s never a time when it’s OK to be rude, distasteful, or demeaning. No matter the job title, position, or lot in life, practice treating all people with high regard.
  • Share your resources with others. Don’t be an idea-hoarder. Who knows if your insights may spark imaginative ideas in others?“

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • Allow others to take credit. Your innovative ideas may spur others to come up with creative ways of doing things…so much so that they may forget the original idea came from you. That’s OK. Exercise enough personal power to not need to have all the credit all the time.
  • Empower others to be successful. Good leaders look for ways for others to be successful. Which of your behaviors turn others off? What hurdles may be keeping others from feeling like part of your team? What needs do they have? How can you go out of your way to meet those needs?
  • Get to know your colleagues. Learn their spouse’s names, ask about what their kids are up to, and seek to understand their motivations and personal interests. When team members feel understood, and appreciated, they’re much more likely to be strong contributors.

Learning to get along and work well with others will enhance your own sense of well-being, as well as contribute to happier, healthier relationships and a greater sense of community…something we all could use more of these days.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

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Why show empathy, anyway?

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

We hear a lot about the need for empathy. Empathy is that ability to sense others’ feelings and to take an active interest in their perspective and concerns. People who are good at this listen for the unspoken emotions in a conversation. They are attentive to a wide range of emotional signals which clue them in to being sensitive to understanding what the other person really wants and needs.

“If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and to see things from his point of view — as well as your own.” — Henry Ford

Those who struggle with empathy — and this may be you — have a hard time reading people and picking up on what they are thinking and feeling. They tend to be literal in hearing only the words which someone says and don’t know how to decipher the other communication that is going on through facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, etc. People with low empathy tend to stereotype others based upon outward appearances and show little deference to others’ opinions and ways of thinking. An unempathetic person can come across indifferent and uncaring.

Why does this matter in the workplace? A Gallup study done in 2015 reported that about 50% of the 7,200 adults surveyed left a job “to get away from their manager.” The study also found that employees whose bosses communicated with them directly and regularly (up to 3 times per week) — not just about work issues but who took an interest in their personal lives — felt more enthusiastic and dedicated to their work. But a lack of empathy — a boss that doesn’t show that he/she cares — can result in company money down the drain. In an article by Suzanne Lucas in CBS News’ Moneywatch (November 21, 2012), she wrote, “For all jobs earning less than $50,000 per year, or more than 40 percent of U.S. jobs, the average cost of replacing an employee amounts to fully 20 percent of the person’s annual salary.” She also shared that in lower-paying jobs (under $30k), the cost to lose an employee is only 16% of their salary — but still. Those dollars add up.

And what about outside of the workplace? “Empathy is truly the heart of the relationship,” said Carin Goldstein, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Without it, the relationship will struggle to survive.” In his book Social Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman writes: “Our experience of oneness – a sense of merging or sharing identities – increases whenever we take someone else’s perspective and strengths the more we see things from their point of view. The moment when empathy becomes mutual has an especially rich resonance.” (Social Intelligence, Goleman, p. 110)

“Relationships often suffer because people get so caught up in their own experience that they simply can’t relate to what someone else is going through. They assert their opinions and hand out advice – all the while not truly appreciating the other person’s struggles.” – Leslie Becker -Phelps, Ph.D.

People with empathy are able to show a sensitivity to what the other person is going through and take action to help make the situation more tolerable for that person. Empathy truly is one of the ways we can begin to connect deeply with others.

I know it all sounds good. We should be more empathetic. But showing empathy is easier for some than others. If you come up on the short stick of empathy, do you just shrug and say, “Oh well. I’m no good at that.”? Empathy is a competency of emotional intelligence, specifically, social intelligence, the ability to discern others’ emotions in the moment and respond accordingly. Empathy is a behavior, and the good news for those of us who struggle with it, behavior can be changed. If you are self-aware enough to realize you may not be the most empathetic person, here are some developmental tips you can try to begin to make a shift in a new direction:

  • Listen. Becoming a good listener is the foundation. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and really tune in to what the other person is saying — and not saying.
  • Ask questions to clarify meaning. Sure, you heard what you think you heard, but asking a few questions not only shows the other person you are interested in learning more but provides clarity to truly understanding what they are trying to express.
  • Put down that phone. When someone’s talking, it’s easy to be distracted by other things going on around you. Let’s be honest, people don’t always pick the most opportune times to walk into your office to talk. Show them respect by putting away distractions while they’re speaking — put down your cell phone (and turn it over so you’re not tempted by the screen or even better, turn it off), close your laptop, and make eye contact as they speak.
  • Tune into the emotions behind the words. Sometimes what the person across from you is really looking for in a conversation is masked behind their words. Listen deeply to find the real meaning behind what is coming out of their mouths.
  • Suspend judgement. You may possess the gift of keen discernment and have that ability to pick up on the subtle nuances of what someone is trying to communicate, but with that can come the ability to pass judgement too quickly. Catch yourself if you are quick to criticize or dismiss the opinions of others. Often the other perspective can offer you fresh insights which you may not have been able to come up with yourself.

Though growing in empathy can take some work, your efforts can lead you down the path of healthier, happier relationships, both at home and at the office. If you feel you need some help, consider employing a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you on the journey.

“Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself.” — John MacNaughton

Improve your decisions. Use your emotions.

decisionArticle contributed by guest author John Thalheimer.

It was late on Tuesday; Julie had to make a decision before she left work. It had been a long day of meetings, project reviews, and conversations with her team. As she walked into her office, she sat down in the armchair she usually reserved for guests to her office. The decision she had to make weighed heavily on her. Instinctively she knew however she decided it would impact the performance of her team for the next year at least.

On her desk sat the resumes of the two candidates that would replace her operations manager. Over the last two weeks, she had narrowed down the candidate pool to these two resumes, and now she had to make a decision.

One of the primary responsibilities of executives is to make decisions for the betterment of the organization. In fact, executives make hundreds of decisions each week that impact the direction of their organizations. In my work with leaders, most of them believe that making rational decisions are an important aspect of their leadership. For the important decisions, the leader usually has a very systematic way to make the decision. Ben Franklin introduced us to the pro vs. con list that many executives use today.

My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, which at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights…” Ben Franklin

If you google decision making, you will get over 133 million different responses. Obviously, we are obsessed with making good decisions. And no wonder with the importance of each decision we make as leaders. And in a way Ben Franklin had it right, the importance of understanding the pros and cons of the variety of choices is still paramount in our decision-making process. Unfortunately, it is not a straightforward as reviewing the facts and making the best rational decision.

As humans, our emotions play a large way in how we make decisions. Our emotions evolved to coordinate our various human operating systems. For instance, the functions of sleep and fear of a predator require different reactions from the brain and body. If the brain was receiving cues from the outside world it was time to sleep while at the same time a lion was stalking us, our species would have been extinct a long time ago.

In today’s society, how we perceive the world impacts our emotions and in turn, influences how we behave including how we make decisions. For instance, when we are deciding between various software providers, we may eliminate one because of a gut reaction that they are not forthright. Maybe the vendor reminds us of time where a vendor let us down. Maybe the vendor triggers an anxious response by shoving the contract in front of you. Maybe the vendor pushes your respect button by calling you, Miss or Son. In any case, this “gut reaction” is an emotional response to an internal trigger that may or may not be accurate.

Our emotional responses are not necessarily rational and may be based on an environmental trigger of which we are unaware. When I was purchasing a new stove for my house, one of the factors I used to make my decision was that it had to be a gas stove. I rationalized this by reminding myself that all of my chef friends said that it is best to cook on gas. It wasn’t until I walked into my grandmother’s house and saw her gas stove that I realized the motive for me to buy a gas stove was a nostalgia for the time spent in my grandmother’s kitchen.

How can we stop having emotions impact our decisions? We don’t. They are a critical part of our decision-making process. In most cases, they provide us a deeper understanding of the decision and how it relates to our internal value system. This connection between our values and the ultimate choice is key to making the best decision possible.

Using the following rules will help us make the best decisions and allow our emotions to properly impact our decision-making process.

  1. Know exactly what you want to achieve. This may seem self-explanatory but in the work environment with its competing and at times conflicting goals, this can be a challenge for even the most experienced leader.
  2. Gather information about the various choices so that you can have a full perspective. You don’t have to get every piece of information possible. Just enough so that you feel comfortable. This is where the pro’s vs. con list can help clarify the different choices.
  3. Get other people involved in the decision-making process. (Not too many, after a certain point too many viewpoints will cause paralysis.) With complex decisions, finding good partners to help you and challenge you help you make the best decisions. It can also offset any biases you may have.
  4. Check your choices against organizational values and standards. Some choices may seem best until they are reviewed with the organizational values in mind.
  5. Finally, make a decision. Yes, your emotions will be involved in the decision-making process, that is not only acceptable and is preferred as it will allow you to react to things that which you are not aware.
  6. Review your decision and its outcomes. Did it meet your expectations? Were there unattended consequences? How did it impact the team? Does anything need to be adjusted? We are never perfect in our decision making, it is how we correct ourselves that truly matter in the long run.

Let’s get back to our heroine, she needs to get home.

Julie stood up and walked towards her desk. She picked up the two resumes. She quickly looked over them, visualizing the two people in her mind. She smiled to herself and picked up the phone and called the Director of HR with her choice. In the end, she realized that it was her decision, and she knew that her intuition would not steer her wrong.

She headed home to her family, wondering what her husband had chosen for dinner.

 

 

Where Do Your Emotions REALLY Come From?

atpicArticle contributed by guest author Aimee Teesdale

Here’s a quick question for you: have a look and see how you’re feeling this very moment and ask yourself, why do you feel that way? Seriously, take the time to figure out what exactly is the cause of whatever emotion you’re experiencing right this very instant.

Relationship counselors, life coaches, Catholic priests in the confession booth and even lawyers have all heard people explaining why they think their lives are simply not the way they want them to be. And usually, the reason goes a little something like this:

“My university course is making me stressed…”

“My wife’s colleague is making me jealous…”

“My horrible job is making me angry…”

“This weather is making me depressed…”

When I asked you above to find the cause for your own current emotional state, did you say something a little similar? Maybe you were “grumpy because the people next door are making noise” or, “bored because there’s nothing good on the telly.” But as innocent as these explanations are, the trouble is they’re not really true.

Let me explain. As a life coach, I’m all about the awesomeness of self-awareness and learning how to take charge of your thoughts, your feelings and hopefully, the dreams you have for your life.

When you frame your emotions as something that other people make you feel, though, you’re quietly giving away all that power. You’re handing over your own agency and control to external forces.

If a 300-pound gorilla walked into the room now, physically picked you up and threw you out the window, then I guess you could technically say the gorilla made you break your leg on the way down. But the stone cold truth is that for the most part, nobody makes you feel anything. Nobody holds a gun to your head and forces you to feel any emotion. And even if someone did have a gun to your head, whether you felt angry or calm or afraid would still be completely up to you.

 

What I’m saying is that the way we respond to events in the world is entirely under our control.

 

When you say that someone or something else “makes me feel…” you’re actually subtly disempowering yourself. Things in the world happen, of course, but your emotions about them are all your own.

I hear you asking, so what?

Well, if you truly believe that the source of your negative emotions is outside of you, then you have immediately convinced yourself that fixing things is someone else’s problem. And you can’t do anything about the choices someone else makes. So you rob yourself of the opportunity to gain emotional mastery.

If your wife was flirting with a colleague, for example, forcing her to change jobs doesn’t solve the problem, since your jealousy didn’t actually come from the colleague …it came from inside you. Saying that the weather is to blame for your bad mood immediately makes you powerless – what on earth can you do about the weather, right?

Because the source of the depression is not the weather, it’s you. And seeing things this way allows you to start thinking of solutions, and start seeing the deeper cause of things.

So the million dollar question is – what IS the deeper cause of things anyway?

Well, that’s simple. Thoughts.

Your university course isn’t making you stressed – a course is just a neutral thing that has completely different effects on different students. No, it’s your thoughts about your course that are stressing you. Your job isn’t making you angry. Unless you have a very strange job, there are no 300-pound gorillas or guns involved. It’s only your thoughts about your job that are stressing you.

The great thing about reframing situations this way is that you instantly get your power back. Why? Because thoughts can be changed! Thoughts are 100%, absolutely, completely and utterly under your control.

I’m not naïve of course, and it may actually be true that you have a cheating wife and an awful job. But it’s only once you start looking at what is and isn’t under your control that you can really do anything about it anyway.

If you answered my initial question with a form of “X is making me feel Y”, then try to rework that right now. Instead of saying, “I’m jealous because of what’s-his-face who always flirts with my wife”, say, “I’m jealous because of my thoughts. My last wife cheated and lied to me, and I haven’t learnt to trust again, and that’s making me feel jealous”

The first explanation gets you nowhere and means that how bad you feel is simply up to whatever what’s-his-face does. The second – well, that’s where things start to get interesting! If you follow the second explanation, you immediately see what a possible solution could be.

Can you think of other ways to reframe the source of your emotions so that you are in control?

Recommended reading:

 

 

Emojis to help with emotional self-awareness

emojiArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

I heard an interesting broadcast about a new app that a bright and creative Millennial is developing to help young people better cope with feelings of depression and suicide. The app is called Mood Ring and uses emojis–which some call the language of Millennials– to log the user’s feelings, with alarms that go off when too many “negative” mood emojis are recorded. The alarm triggers one of three friends, previously set up as an accountability team, in real time, to reach out to the user to check in.

The ability to be self-aware of how we are feeling in the moment, and why, is a key component of emotional intelligence. In a time where many in the age group I call “older than Millennials” have a tendency to find fault with our younger generation (“they never want to work”, and “they don’t know how to communicate” are a few I’ve heard recently, to my chagrin), it’s satisfying to learn of someone who not only understands the nature of the struggles at hand but is willing to create solutions that are applicable.

Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s interview:

“STORM WHITE: Yeah, so we’re often inspired by stories like the ones we just heard. And we wanted to create a platform that replicates the friendship and the bond we just heard of. And so that’s kind of where Mood Ring, the name of our app, come in. It’s an app that allows young people to track how they’re feeling using emojis.

GREENE: These are the emojis that we’re familiar with like on mobile devices? I mean, the smiley faces, the sad faces.

WHITE: Yeah, it was a playful way to address something that’s really serious. So we wanted it not to be so dark.”

Watch/read the entire broadcast here: http://www.npr.org/2016/03/23/471543322/that-moody-teenager-may-be-depressed-but-there-is-help

What’s in a Smile?

Young Man and a Young Boy (6-7) Looking at Each Other Laughing --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Article Contributed by Amy Sargent

In a split second, are you able to determine the emotional state of the person across from you? Some researchers say you can, and being able to do this can increase your social intelligence — that ability to, in the moment, to be aware of others’ emotions and use that information to manage your relationships.

Remember the relationship god Nick Marshall became in the movie What Women Want when he suddenly could hear what others were thinking? Just imagine how much more effective we could be in leading our teams and inspiring our co-workers if we knew exactly what they were feeling!

As we connect with others, we tend to emotionally mirror — that unconscious reaction that happens in a split second when our inferior frontal gyrus recognizes someone’s facial expression and tells us to mimic it. When they smile, we smile. When they frown, we frown. And it’s this mirroring that can help us better tune into others’ emotions.

“A pair of US psychologists in 2011 found people who used botox, a popular anti-wrinkle treatment that freezes muscles, were less able to judge others’ emotions compared to subjects who only used dermal fillers (which plump the skin rather than freeze it). “

Interesting, huh? Apparently not being able to mirror interrupts vital emotional brain signals necessary to correctly interpret emotions.

Apart from mirroring, there are many competencies of social intelligence that we can develop and strengthen to better read how others are feeling. Which skills from this list, if developed, would be most helpful to you in navigating your relationships at the office?

  • empathy
  • situational awareness
  • service orientation
  • communication
  • interpersonal effectiveness
  • powerful influencing skills
  • conflict management
  • inspirational leadership
  • catalyzing change
  • building bonds
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • coaching and mentoring others
  • building trust

Just being aware of your strengths and weaknesses in these areas can give you a good start down the road of behavior change — and tuning in to how your teammates are feeling. Read more of this interesting article by Belinda Smith here:  Why smiles and frowns are contagious

Teaching kids to talk about feelings: Name it to tame it.*

kidstalkaboutfeelingsArticle contributed by guest author Fern Weis.

Before you can deal with a problem or emotion, you have to be able to name it and describe it.  This goes double for teens.  The problem is that their vocabulary for describing what they’re feeling is seriously limited.  When was the last time you got more than happy, mad, sad, angry, upset or p***ed-off from them?

Let’s go back to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) again.  “Self-awareness is the ability to recognize emotions as you feel them.  When kids tune in to their feelings, they can learn to understand and manage them.”  So they need to be aware that they’re in an emotional state and recognize what they’re feeling, before they can do something about it.

It’s critical to ‘name it to tame it.’  Since teens and tweens are more reactive than reflective, you’re going to have to help them through this process.  Here is where you become a teacher, and you can do it simply by teaching by example.

1)  Brainstorm a list of words that describe difficult emotions.  (There are more than 100 of them.)  Write them down and say them out loud every day so they are there when you need them.

2)  Be honest in expressing your own feelings.  Rather than being emotional, express what you’re feeling.  Use the list from #1.  Kids learn from you how to speak, act and react.

3)  Listen carefully to what your kids are telling you and pay special attention to the feelings underlying their words.

4)  Reflect back what you think you’re hearing.  Now they are hearing new, hopefully more accurate, words that they can start to use themselves.

You are the most important teacher your child will ever have.  When you follow these steps, you teach without nagging, lecturing and controlling.  There’s no better way to get your message across than by just doing what you want them to do.

(* Borrowed from Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Dr. Daniel Siegel.

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