Posts Tagged ‘emotion’

What is being ‘professional’ costing you?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

In Nina's new management role, she quickly earned a reputation for being calm and 'professional'. You see Nina had long ago learned to suppress her real self at work because the real Nina is colourful and loud, and she commands attention by simply walking into the room.

Nina learned the hard way as a child that expressing her emotion would invite conflict from her peers and her family. So she quickly learned to bite her tongue when she was aggrieved. So 'calm and professional' Nina puts on her mask as she steps into the office each day and regularly experiences anger rising up in her throat whenever her needs are overlooked or her ideas are stolen, but each time she swallows it down, often finding herself suffering from throat infections, especially when she takes time out for a holiday.

After years of practice, Nina had begun to notice that her mask was no longer reserved just for work. Despite being a natural people person, she revealed that if she ever felt hurt or upset, she would avoid social situations for fear of accidentally letting her true feelings slip, or otherwise she would have to put on the mask again, which left her feeling exhausted. After years of this behaviour, Nina recognised that she had become defensive, angry and suspicious of others and found her way to a War to Peace® workshop.

During a conversation about the ‘Unlucky 7’ signs of being in conflict, Nina's ears pricked up when she heard that one of the signs is ‘I gather allies and evidence to prove that I am right.’ She realised that this is exactly what she did at school when she felt she had been wronged. She would tell her friends what had happened, they would take ‘sides’ with her and invariably, a small disagreement would escalate into a row which would last for weeks between factions of classmates.

Nina was also relieved to learn that she wasn't the only one who gathers evidence to prove she is right about the people she is in conflict with and she shared that, as an adult, her reaction is to sit and wallow in her 'rightness', leaving her mind whirring with all the things she wished she said when the conflict first arose. At the War to Peace® workshop she experienced a completely new way of dealing with this and vowed to come up with her own version that would help her release upset, instead of holding it in or gathering evidence and allies as she had done in the past.

Four months later, we heard from a very relaxed and much more outgoing Nina, who shared that she had made an agreement with a highly trusted friend to be each other’s 'occasional rant partner’. The simple rules were that one could phone the other and ask permission to rant. The other person would make sure they were out of earshot of anyone else and then the caller had three minutes to shout, swear, scream and, well, rant about something that had upset them. The rant partner would listen, not interrupt and would let them know that their rant had been heard. Crucially, the rant was never mentioned again or brought up in conversation in the future (it would be so easy to become an ally after all). The rant was treated purely as a vent and its contents were not given importance.

Nina told us that it felt as though the large, familiar lump had finally cleared from her throat. Whenever she got angry and ranted, she didn’t feel the need to gather allies or to wallow in the evidence that she was ‘right’. She felt seen by her friend, was able to let it go, and then was far better equipped to objectively assess the situations that had caused the rage. And she would witness her friend too, so instead of being the moaning partners and allies they had once been to each other, they were supporting each other in a far more helpful way. Nina has also given us permission to share that after many years of singledom, she is now dating - and has been leaving her mask at home!

Over to you

When do you find yourself wearing a mask? Could you benefit from having a rant partner instead of an ally? Identify someone today who could fulfil that role for you.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from this work, our next open-access War to Peace® workshop is on 5 October and we have just nine spaces left. To book your place, click here.

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Are you secretly seething?

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Just the thought of them is enough to get your hackles up. And you have to see them soon so you're already working out your strategy. You find them entering your thoughts at random times of the day, you imagine what you will say to them when you next see them - you long to put them in their place once and for all.

You fantasise about yelling at them and telling them in no uncertain terms all the things you've always wanted to say, but you don't want them to know they've got to you, so instead you work out how you can intellectually outwit them instead. Or perhaps, this time, you will be more subtle in how you show them your disappointment in them. These thoughts whir round and round in your head, and you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about them.

Angry man: Are you secretly seething?You're secretly seething and you still don't know what you're going to do about it.

We suppress our emotions, yet they still disable us

For many of us, having grown up in an era of personal development and with the phrase ‘emotional intelligence’ being in common parlance since Daniel Goldman coined the term in the 90s, we have learned to contain our feelings about our obnoxious work colleague, family member or neighbour, or at least self-manage (often through gritted teeth) in their presence so we don’t appear to be the one with the problem.

So we may not be someone who is openly hostile, getting into heated arguments and forcing our opinion down someone else’s throat, but containing ourselves and keeping a lid on our emotions is still costing us. Instead of shouting and raging at them we may have managed to avoid having an outburst, but these kind of encounters leave us feeling drained, upset, vowing to avoid them or heading to the nearest bottle of wine to drown our sorrows.

It’s inevitable that, at times, we’ll come across other people whom we experience as unfair, incompetent, arrogant or simply downright annoying. And no matter how emotionally intelligent we are, the way some people behave would drive a saint to lose their cool.

Repressed emotion breeds conflict

You’re not alone. In almost every workshop we hold, it only takes one person to talk about their feelings of pent-up rage about someone they work with, or encounter in their personal life, for a unison of nods from the other participants. We know it's no longer acceptable to have an emotional outburst in the workplace or with our in-laws so when we find ourselves riled up by someone, we often feel doubly resentful that we've had to hold it all in - or we have an acute sense of disappointment about ourselves for letting them get under our skin in the first place. Regardless of how incompetent, annoying, unfair (add in your own descriptor) they are, we know that resenting them isn’t the best course of action, especially when it inevitably tips over into sniping or point scoring, either directly toward them, or to those closest to us.

And so you add another layer of conflict to the feelings you’re already experiencing, meaning a whole lot of mental energy is being wasted and results in you losing focus, reducing your capacity to shine, taking it out on other people, or beating yourself to a small pulp.

So if you’re secretly seething, what can you do?

  1. The first step is to be honest with yourself about what’s going on for you internally. We tend to think of conflict as being characterised by overt disagreements, or even forms of aggression, like raised voices or sarcasm. But even if you are not externalising your thoughts and feelings, the fact that you’re seething inside is costing you.
  2. The second thing to remember is that this conflict and what you're feeling about it isn’t who you are. It helps us to think about it as a place we visit from time to time - we refer to this as 'being in the Red' - which means it is also a place we can move away from once we learn how. No matter how intense your internal dialogue might be at times, the “monster” who’s seething inside is not who you are as a person.
  3. The true person you are is someone at ease, with a clear head who is able to respond to others, rather than react to them, even when they are behaving in ways that you don't like or agree with. We refer to this as being in the Green. This may not sound familiar to you right now, but you will have experienced this many times in your life when interacting with people you enjoy being with, when you are not policing yourself, and you are simply being you.

Moving forward

If you want to learn what secretly seething is costing you, and how to find your way back to your true self, join us for our next public workshop, which is in London on Friday this week. We have just two spaces left and you can book your place here.

Over to you

Can you relate to secretly seething? What impact did it have and what are your own tips for overcoming it?

We'd love to hear from you in the comments.

War to Peace® workshops

We run our award-winning War to Peace workshops a few times per year in London and these are open to anyone to attend. We also run in-house workshops and programmes for organisations all over the world, so if you want your people to thrive and work better together, click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072.

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Are you secretly seething? Do you struggle to keep your cool? Then this blog post is for you from @halcyonglobal

 

 

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn via Unsplash