Description: Being totally yourself in personal and professional settings, by strengthening your understanding of who you are and your relationship with the people around you.
Thinking Partner Notes
What’s the fiction: For real leaders, emotions are a distraction; something to be ignored.
What's really true: When leaders are aware of their emotions, their emotional triggers and the impact of their reactions to external stimuli, they’re in a much better position to regulate their actions and understand the actions of others.
Example: Sarah was told by a manager to keep a poker-face in the meeting, as she was known to react quickly and effusively to what people said. Showing up this way was in-authentic to Sarah and she felt like she was behind bars. Instead she worked on growing her capacity to increase awareness of herself and others during thinking partnership sessions. She began by identifying her common triggers: being talked down to, sloppy language, oversimplification of complex problems were a few she identified. She learned how to pause before responding, breathe, name to herself what she was feeling (“I’m angry”) and instead of reacting angrily (unskilled), reacting with skill by calmly making clear to the other party what she was angry about. She recognized that anger is a very natural human emotion, but she needed to learn to shift from being consumed by it, to instead name and aim it, and then move the discussion quickly into resolution. In one of her meetings that previously would have turned into a battleground, she was able to instead collaborate by having awareness and expressing her emotion productively. “I’m upset with the oversimplification of your take on the problem Justin, I have a long history of the downstream effect when people don't want to take the time to solve it properly upfront, and then have a bigger problem down the road. It’s not helpful for you or me to be angry, so let’s resolve how we can tackle this problem together now.”
Things to try: Referencing this “Feelings Inventory” A) Practice naming your feelings when your needs are satisfied and not satisfied; B) Practice naming the feelings of those around you when you sense that their needs are satisfied and not satisfied; C) Practice changing your in-the-moment emotional reactions to situations. For example, in situations when you’re feeling afraid, force yourself to take a deep breath, relax your posture and roll your shoulders or smile.
Next steps: 1) Expand your feelings vocabulary by studying this list; 2) Listen to yourself with purpose for the next few days, naming the feelings you’re experiencing; 3) Tie each feeling that you experience to a specific action or situation; 4) Ask the colleagues who you trust and who know you well how your emotions impact them.
What good looks like in increasing your emotional awareness and how you can master this capability.