Caring, Emotional Security, and Growth

May 23, 2023

In the previous post, we discussed the importance of getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. Today, we continue that thought process. As leaders, many of us struggle with handling less-than-positive and upbeat emotions in the workplace. I understand it can be complicated. We're not therapists, and we haven't been specifically trained to deal with these situations. That's why most leaders prefer to focus on numbers—it's cleaner, easier, and less mentally and emotionally taxing. But...

There's a problem with avoiding emotions in the workplace. Emotions are closely tied to beliefs. Our beliefs drive our actions, and our actions determine our results. We refer to this as the BAR Formula (Beliefs drive Actions; Actions create Results). By avoiding emotions, we fail to address the factors that impact the results achieved by ourselves and our teams. Consider this thought:

Avoiding emotions indicates that you're not genuinely interested in achieving higher performance. Instead, you merely want people to complete their tasks, meet their goals, and stay out of your way.

Whether the emotions manifest as anger, passive-aggressive behavior, aggression, crying, conflict avoidance, or any other emotional state, they significantly influence the outcomes your team achieves. Therefore, addressing these emotions becomes crucial if you are truly committed to enhancing performance. The secret lies in how you approach them. If you haven't already, try employing the following strategy:

Think "Limiting" or "Liberating" – Emotions are often labeled as good or bad, positive or negative. However, these are judgmental terms. No one likes to perceive their emotions as bad or negative. Instead, consider framing emotions as either liberating or limiting. Determine whether the specific emotion empowers the person to grow and succeed or restricts their ability to effectively act in certain situations. By stating this as a fact, you avoid passing judgment on their emotion.

Address the Issue Privately – When these emotions arise in a group setting, it can create an awkward atmosphere for everyone involved. Thus, addressing the emotion immediately might not be the most suitable course of action, unless you have a team that is willing to openly and constructively discuss it at that moment. Instead, schedule a private meeting with the person.

Utilize "The Ultimate Communication Multi-tool" – Identify & Ask, Mirror, Explore, Refocus. Begin by explaining precisely what you observed, and then inquire about the reasons behind that particular emotion. Something must have triggered it. Proceed to explore deeper and search for improved strategies together.

Distinguish between Single Events and Patterns – Single events and patterns should be handled differently. If it's a one-time occurrence, take the opportunity to understand what's going on. This behavior is out of the norm for the person, and your intention is to provide assistance. There might have been an incident, either work-related or outside of work, that led to this reaction. On the other hand, if it's a recurring pattern, engage in a conversation with the person to gain insight into the triggers behind that emotion. If you have resources available to help, recommend that they utilize them.

Embrace the Real World – It's likely that the situation which sparked the limiting emotion will occur again. Guide the person towards thinking about new strategies to achieve a different outcome. For instance, say, "Juan, this situation will happen again because we work in a fast-paced environment. What can you do differently in the future to create a more productive outcome?" This approach encourages Juan to focus on what he can control.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an environment where emotions are addressed constructively, enabling personal and team growth while fostering improved performance. Remember, emotions are a natural part of the workplace, and it's our approach to them that can make all the difference.

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