Patrick: Hey everybody, I’m Pat V. Welcome back to another episode of The Rise Above Your Best podcast, where you’re probably tired of me saying, but not only obsessed with interviewing and understanding the habits that have made other people successful, but also in uncovering and presenting the research that demonstrate that great success is available to all of us, and it all starts when we believe in the power of rising above our best.
Patrick: The past few episodes have all been around developing emotional intelligence, and that really is the foundation for a lot of the work that I do, whether it’s around teams, or individuals, or leadership, personal development, career development. It really is foundational for all of the different components of what I do. We’ve talked already about awareness of self, how to develop that, how to become more aware of others, how to effectively express our own emotions, and how to manage our own emotions. That idea that we talked about, about being a thermostat versus a thermometer.
Patrick: These last two episodes, I’m going to combine them. One is going to be around managing emotions of others, really being able to help others in that space. Then the last is around emotional self control, and this is this ability of being able to develop a long fuse when we’re around issues that might be stressful and why is that important, and how do we do it? So why don’t we get into it?
Patrick: When we talk about emotional management of others, there’s really three things that you can think about in terms of what it does. The first is people that are highly skilled in this area are able to create environments that really make people feel more optimistic and positive about the workplace that they’re in. They’re also able to communicate and interact in ways that motivate and engage others at work. Then lastly, they’re really very adept at being able to help others see things from different perspectives.
Patrick: Now again, for each of these modules or episodes in terms of developing emotionally intelligent behaviors, I always go back to work and personal that if we look at those three things, there’s no difference why that isn’t important to be able to have in a personal life, whether in family or in the community, wherever that is. So from a business case standpoint though, which is what I often start out from, is we look at why is it important. Again, why is it important to develop a stronger skill set in terms of managing other people’s emotions? Well, obviously when we’re able to do this, we create greater workplace morale and satisfaction. It helps us to deal with workplace conflict more effectively. It can help us to effectively inspire or motivate other people to be more committed to their own work as well as to increase their own level of performance. If we’re able to help them stay in a place where they’re more effective. That’s really what this is about.
Patrick: How can we do that? How can we help other people? Well, there are really a few different strategies that we can use. When we think back to the module that we talked about or the episode that we talked about around managing our own emotions, much of this is the same. It’s trying to first hopefully model our own ability to manage emotions so that others can see what we’re doing. Really, this idea of walking the talk, they see us doing it so they’re able to understand like, “Hey, I can do this too.”
Patrick: Before we can help others manage their own emotions though we really need to go back to one of the episodes that we talked about before in terms of awareness of other people’s emotions, and that really deals with our own ability or skillset that hopefully we had been working to develop that’s looking at maybe the words that somebody is using. Are they using more emotional words? The tone of voice that they’re using, the facial expressions, maybe some of the emotional displays that they might have. What are they doing with their body and what are their behaviors? What are they doing? I mean, are they … Can you just visibly tell if this person’s upset for angry? Whatever that is. We need to be able to understand that first.
Patrick: Then next when we’re talking about the idea of managing that emotion. Really what we’re trying to do is slow this whole thing down, because oftentimes we are in two different states. We’re either reacting or we’re responding, and responding often is more effective. Obviously, if we’re really … If it’s a life threatening event, then we need to be able to react, that’s the primitive part of our brain. Most of the time, though, we really need to just slow down, and we need to respond, and that’s the difference here. That’s what helping other people manage their emotions as able to do. It’s to say, how do we slow this thing down?
Patrick: Our first strategy in this situation is really going to revolve around distraction. How can we get them out of that space that they’re in? Some suggestions might be just to go for coffee, give them five minutes to vent. Again, we talked about this before, right? Venting should be like gone on vacation, not living there. Maybe it’s just to take them and go for a walk around the block or to recommend a timeout, but the whole goal of this is to say, how can I break the pattern? What can I do to almost sort of call a time out here? We’ve got to switch this thing up. That’s the first part of this.
Patrick: Then the next part is really around disrupting the thought pattern too. What is actually going on? To do this we look at four different components, we look at evidence, alternatives, implications, and usefulness is one way to frame this as a box almost. The first part is this idea of clarifying all the evidence, and really what that involves is uncovering the supporting and discounting evidence related to the unbalanced thoughts, really, or feelings that we’re having. When feeling negative people can discount evidence that directly contradicts their thoughts and feelings. Really, what they’re trying to do is validate where they are, so they forget everything else that goes counter to that, and that’s where the first part of this, distracting people, allows us to get to this next part where we can almost, on a more even keel basis, we can say, “Okay, let’s look at the evidence. What really is going on?” Almost like, “Let’s look at the facts.”
Patrick: So from there, what we do is we go onto considering the alternatives. Really what this allows us to do is generate a range of alternative ways of thinking and feeling. It’s helping people to consider that what might be occurring for the situation they are feeling is there’s more to this. So as an example, when we’re talking about considering all of the alternatives, you could simply ask that question, what else could be going on here? Or what’s another way of thinking about the situation? It allows us to help the other person to see things like maybe what we think we’re seeing isn’t really what’s going on. Once we’ve done this, we go onto step three, which is about identifying the implications. An example here is to help somebody consider like what are the implications and likely outcomes for the, we’ll call them unbalanced thoughts that they’re having that’s creating this environment?
Patrick: As an example, sometimes unfortunate things happen in life. However, those things typically are not as severe as people imagine they’re going to be. So it’s almost like taking what’s the worst case scenario here when we think about the identifying implications? I mean really, based on the situation that we’re in right now, what is the worst case that can possibly happen? Somebody says, “Well, you know what? I could get fired from my job.” Okay, so from that standpoint then what’s next?
Patrick: The last part of this is the usefulness piece, and it’s really challenging people at this point to really think about what is the value of the position or thought that they’ve had, and is there a more effective or appropriate way that they might be able to respond to the situation other than the one that they’re currently doing? So, as we recap on this box model, we say, “Okay, let’s look at the clarifying evidence first.” Question might be: what’s the evidence that supports and contradicts what you’re thinking? From there we go onto considering all the alternatives and we say, “Well, what additional points of view or perspectives and opinions might exist? What other things are there?”
Patrick: Then we moved down to this idea of identifying the implications, the third box, and we say, “What can you do to minimize the negative impact of this issue?” Give people that alternative. What do you think you can do? And then lastly, we go over to the fourth box here about assessing the usefulness of their current thinking, and the question there could be: how useful is it for you to continue to think like this? What’s the value here? Almost to get them to recognize themselves like, “This is a waste of time. I’m wasting so much energy on something that in all likelihood isn’t going to happen and even if it did, worst case, we’ve already explored that, what that might look like.” That’s a way that you can start to work in terms of managing the emotions of others.
Patrick: Now, the last component of the emotional intelligence work that we’re discussing is: from my own perspective, what do I do about my own self control and what does that look like? When you think about when we discuss emotional self control, it really is the skill of effectively controlling strong emotions that we experience, and this really is the ability for us to have what I would call a long fuse. It allows us to overcome anger at work by thinking through what’s causing it. We don’t get hijacked. It also allows us to more easily concentrate on a task when we’re really excited at work or upset about something, we can stay focused more often.
Patrick: One of the examples that I use is from US Air. Everybody is probably familiar with the pilot Sully. When he put the plane down in the Hudson River, and it was great when people are asking like, ‘How did you do that?” They just listened to him and his correspondence or whatever and he just matter-of-factly talked about putting this plane down the Hudson River, and they were amazed. They were like, “How could you do that?” And he said, “Well that’s really just what we practice for. So when that happens we’re able to remain calm and do it.” That really is very similar to this idea of emotional self control, that’s what we’re doing here is we’re, almost ahead of time, we’re identifying certain triggers that create emotions for us before they happen. Same thing with training, putting the plane down in the Hudson River. I need to be prepared for it before it happens. So when it does, I already have a pattern or a way to deal with it. Again, it’s responding versus reacting.
Patrick: So, how can you enhance your own self control in this situation? Well, there are a number of things that you can do, and I’m just going to list five of them.
Patrick: 1. Really identifying what are the strong emotions you tend to experience. I would think if you really think about it, there are certain emotions that we tend to experience on a more regular basis, and the idea is to find out what those are. Not to ignore them or deny them, but really say, “What things tend to happen to me when I’m in a really high stress situation? What emotions tend to come out?
Patrick: 2. Describing the things you notice when you’re experiencing those strong emotions that tend to sort of build up and become more intense. When we’re able to describe our thoughts, our feelings, the physical sensations and memories for the strong emotions that we’ve experienced, it allows us to put them into context and also to better understand why they tend to occur and what situations do they tend to come up in.
Patrick: 3. Determining what are our emotional default patterns of behaving when we’re experiencing these strong emotions? As an example, when we’re in danger, we fight, we freeze, or we flee, and by identifying our emotional defaults we are better able to choose the most mindful way of responding when we notice that we are having an experience of that strong emotion, what am I going to do? “All right, I know I’m feeling threatened right now. What? What’s my normal default? And is this really something that I should be getting that upset about?”
Patrick: 4. So once we’ve sort of understood what our defaults are, then that fourth component to this as to say, “What are some alternatives?” That plan B, “What can I do when I know this is coming on? This has been my default all along, hasn’t been the most effective in many situations. Here’s an alternative.” So when I know I’m starting to feel those sensations or I’m feeling I’m in that situation where I know I’m going to blow up right now or I’m going to behave in a way that probably isn’t very productive, what’s an alternative? What else can I do?
Patrick: 5. The last recommendation here really is around visualizing what that looks like, and there’s more and more research that demonstrates the impact and importance that visualization can have on our actual outcome. A lot of times our brain doesn’t know the difference. If you’re old enough to remember, there was a Memorex commercial that was with a tape player, and they used to play music so loud that it shattered a wineglass. And the tagline was: is it live or is it Memorex? And our brain is the same way. Is it real? Our brain doesn’t know the difference, oftentimes, especially when we’re visualizing. So, the whole idea here is to say, visualize a better situation, a better response, what that would feel like, how you would respond to that, because when we’re doing that we’re practicing and strengthening that self control muscle and what that might look like.
Patrick: Now, when we look to put this into practice, if we think of the first part of this of labeling a strong emotion that I experience, I would challenge you to pick an emotion or two, maybe it’s resentful or it’s fearful or it’s furious, whatever that might be for an emotion. Why did you select it, first? Then as you’re thinking of that situation in the past where you experienced that, say it’s anger, what triggered it and what were the thoughts that you noticed when you felt that? So you might say the feelings, the moods that I noticed when I was experiencing that strong emotion of anger were what were they? Betrayal, whatever it might be. Then what were the physical sensations that you noticed in your body? You know, I was tensing up. I felt myself getting hotter, I could feel my heart rate, I could feel my hands shaking, and what were the memories that you have of that? This is a way of really sort of understanding what was that situation, because we’re going to use that again when we go forward in terms of how do we visualize a situation that doesn’t look like that.
Patrick: After we have identified that strong emotion, the next is to dig a little deeper in regards to what are our defaults, and we all have them, and really we start to see our defaults when a core belief that we have, our value is challenged. That’s when our default tends to come up, and there were a number of defaults, so I’m going to list a few of them here:
Patrick: 1. What we term as an attacker, and this is the person that comes out charging. The best defense is a strong offense. This person comes right at you.
Patrick: 2. Another would almost be the opposite. This is the victim. This is the person that becomes overwhelmed by emotion. They over generalize the situation as this never ending pattern. It just won’t end.
Patrick: 3. You might have an avoider, somebody that just completely withdraws from the situation.
Patrick: 4. You might have what’s called a hero. This is the person that refuses to ask for other people’s help.
Patrick: 5. You might have somebody that acts like a sniper. They use innuendos or almost sort of passive aggressive to trigger distracting emotions in others. Could be playful teasing or not so subtle remarks.
Patrick: 6. Maybe you’re a judge. You’re the person that adopts a tone of absolute certainty.
Patrick: 7. Maybe you’re the saboteur. You’re the person that finds fault with everything, but you’re seldom offering a useful solution.
Patrick: 8. The opposite of that is a Pollyanna. This is sort of that unrealistic optimistic person. They’re always demonstrating a strong positive bias, but they’re unable to recognize sort of the downside of what’s going on, and there can be.
Patrick: 9. You could have the fortune teller. This is the person that sort of jumps to unsupported conclusions. They’ve already said where this thing is going to go. It’s already been predestined for them.
Patrick: 10. You could have a person that is super agreeable, always reasonable and sincere, but really unauthentically so.
Patrick: 11. Another one might be as a child, right? You report the shortcomings of others, but you fail to take responsibility for your own actions. It’s always somebody else’s fault.
Patrick: 12. Then the last one, it gets termed as sort of a gloomy gus, this is the person that discounts the positive. They’re hyper pessimistic, they exaggerate the issues and they discount either others or their own sort of qualities in regards to being able to deal with us.
Patrick: Those are just a few of the defaults. My guess is, if you were to go down that list, you can find out that you’re probably in one of those buckets at some point that that is a default that we have.
Patrick: The key to addressing our emotional default is really to almost create an emotional alternative. What is the different approach that we’re going to take? We can’t do that until we respond. We need that space between the action of what happened and how we respond to it, and that’s really when we’re able to develop the emotional alternative.
Patrick: So for each of the defaults that I mentioned to you, there’s actually an emotional alternative:
Patrick: 1. If we were to take the attacker and we think of it now as the alternative really is around being a coach. This is now somebody that can work with others. They cooperate, they’re willing to connect with other people and sort of how they’re feeling.
Patrick: 2. When we’re the victim our emotional alternative now is to be the strategist. We’re able to recognize personal power. We connect with the emotion and we plan the outcome.
Patrick: 3. If we’re the avoider, we become the engager. We take ownership and we’re open to sort of a win-win resolution here.
Patrick: 4. If we’re the hero, our alternative is then to become the collaborator. It’s not, I can do it all. We ask for help. We’re not afraid to do that.
Patrick: 5. If we were the sniper, now we’re the supporter. We’re more of an advocate for others. We’re developing that ability to not try and shoot people down or stab in the back, but we’re actually going to try and support them however we can.
Patrick: 6. If we were the judge, we’re going to be the acceptor, we use a tone of curiosity now and we’re sort of open minded. What might be the third alternative to the situation?
Patrick: 7. If we were the saboteurs we’re now the problem solver. We seek solutions to our own and to other people’s issues here.
Patrick: 8. If we were the Pollyanna, we’re now going to be more of a pragmatist. We’ll sorta look to develop this power of emotional discernment where we’re able to account for many perspectives and we weigh a lot of options.
Patrick: 9. If we were the fortune teller before, now we’re more the fortunate seeker. We seek out supporting and emotionally balanced evidence. We ask other people their opinions.
Patrick: 10. If before we were super agreeable, now we’re more dependable. We demonstrate sort of this sincerity in terms of what we say.
Patrick: 11. If we were the child before. Really now we’re just the adult. We take ownership for our own and for others.
Patrick: 12. If we were that gloomy gus before, now we’re more harmonious. Where self-compassionate, we seek out the positives, we explore sort of the, what’s termed the emotional shades of gray and we’re just more stable.
Patrick: So, you can see I’ve listed down emotional alternatives and those are ways that we can challenge each other to take a different perspective on things when we’re talking about self control. But again, this is just like a muscle. The only way it gets stronger is when we actually sit there and say, “Okay, how can I become more like the coach? What things can I do to prevent myself from being the attacker?” Well, again, “What do I know about that default and what do I know about the emotions that bring that out or the environments that create this space where I fall into the attacker mode?” And until we can do sort of the things around visualization and labeling what those emotions are and how they feel, then we don’t have the opportunity to create a different environment going forward. We don’t have that ability to be Sully and to have a plan B. We’re just going to crash as opposed to land it smoothly on water.
Patrick: I hope you have found both of these outlines on developing emotional self control as well as helping others to manage their own emotions, I hope you found both of these to be helpful. If there’s somebody that you know that you think can benefit from this as well, please forward it on and maybe there’ll be able to gain benefit from it as well. As always, I appreciate your comments and if you found this valuable in help for yourself, if you’d go online and rate this, and certainly if you haven’t already, if you’d subscribed to it.
Patrick: Also, if you have any suggestions on future episodes or things you feel like weren’t addressed here in regards to developing emotionally intelligent behaviors, I’d love to hear about it. Until our next episode I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best.
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