by Deborah Monroe
Date Published February 14, 2018 - Last Updated March 7, 2019

The top challenges you face at work are not technical or financial; they are emotional and relational.

It is my passion and commitment to make the world a better place. That purpose arose from working in some of the most impossible, toxic, and dysfunctional environments that can cause one to end up in therapy!

The search to best deal with and handle emotionally charged situations brought me to discover Emotional Intelligence and the neuroscience behind it, my expertise.

Research by 6 Seconds, the largest global Emotional Intelligence community, suggests that the top challenges at work are not technical or financial but emotional and relational at 70.5%. That is wonderful to know! YET what do we do with that information and how we individually make an impact to lower that number? What do we need to actually do to make the change?

Deborah will share three goals to think about when managing conflict, and more at HDI Conference & Expo.
Join us!

The Foundation

So why do we act the way that we do? What motivates and drives us? How do we ensure that we get what we need to satisfy those motivations and drivers? 

Most of us have no idea how to answer those questions, and if we do, we don’t do it well! 

We end up working on autopilot. The business of the day. Putting fires out.  Reacting the same way to the situations in our line of sight. Nothing seems to change. I know you can relate.

Joe reacts this way, Suzy reacts that way. We are SO predictable!

When something comes up that is uncomfortable in a relationship, we either shy away to avoid it or the complete opposite, we cock our double-barreled shotgun and let loose. Neither is effective or allows for the optimum outcome, as you know.

A couple of years ago, I was in a terrible situation that stole my sleep and some of my sanity (I know you can relate). I had rented out my home to a couple that seemed very nice and lots of fun… At first. 

They ended up being terror-bullies. Full of intimidation, anger, blame, unreasonably demanding things, and yes, they got violent.

I was at my wit’s end. And, I must tell you, I do know how to deal with conflict. I do know how to negotiate. I do know how to have an adult conversation in order to correct behavior without being mean. I am self-aware and practice what I preach.  But, in this situation I was lost, so lost that my own peace was gone, and that, in my mind, is NOT acceptable.

Enter Joshua Freeman, CEO of 6 Seconds. Josh and I have some history, and he asked me to do a Neural Net Assessment, which identifies four areas of one’s life and which EI competencies to use to improve them. 

The concept behind this assessment is to identify emotions that you can proactively use in a situation to create an alternative outcome. That seems like a strange idea.

The recommendation of my assessment was to increase these three things in my relationships:

  • Increase Empathy
  • Navigate Emotions
  • Exercise Optimism

Now hang in there with me!  Why is this important?

Okay, those of us in this field of people work know that emotions are not good or bad. Emotions are information. Emotions can get us into trouble; they can also get us out of trouble. We are going to concentrate on the latter statement.

Emotions can get us into trouble; they can also get us out of trouble.
Tweet: Emotions can get us into trouble; they can also get us out of trouble. @ThinkHDI #HDIConf

The word e-motion represents that there is some kind of movement that happens when we feel. What that motion is depends on you. 

Josh Freeman has said, “Emotions can motivate people to step back or to step forward. Some emotions focus our attention on problems and some on opportunities.” In other words, “Feelings are most effective when they are used.”

With that, Josh walked me through how to “use” emotions to manage the uncomfortable situation that was in front of me.

The Fix

Remember the three things that the Neural Net Assessment suggested I use to improve my skillfulness in relationships?

Increase Empathy: I asked myself: Deborah, what do you think these people are feeling, and why are they feeling so hostile? What do they really “need,” and what do they need from me? Can I give them what they need? What would happen if I listened more and talked less?

In this situation, I simply let the person talk, complain, degrade me, moan, and question my value system. While this person was doing all that, I grit my teeth…used the EI competency of self control to manage my emotions and be aware if I was getting defensive. I set my head to “listen deeply” to figure out what was it that they truly needed behind all the venom. 

What I saw is the person in front of me needed to feel in control and justified. They wanted to be right, and I was a piece of garbage. 

Breath and Use Self Control: I didn’t need to respond to that.  I didn’t need to prove myself in that aspect. I needed to create empathy, in their minds for me. I needed to change their emotions, judgments, and thoughts around who I am.

Navigate Emotions: I asked myself: “Deborah, am I generating feelings that will help me be open and supportive? What do I want them to feel?”

In this situation, I had to prepare myself. Not an easy task. 

If I had gone into the situation feeling judgmental and angry, I would have created a worse setting and left this person feeling more defensive and tense. The emotions I used were empathy and optimism: “Everything will work out and let me understand why you are so upset.”

I am the ONLY one that has control over how I show up in a conversation. I used great intention to get my head into that place even though I didn’t want to!

Exercise Optimism: I asked myself: “Deborah, what sparks of opportunity and possibility can I share with others to make them feel more supported and optimistic?”

In most situations, I am the Pollyanna of optimism. I truly believe that every situation can be worked out. This was no different. I asked in a positive manner, what is it that will make this situation livable for both of us?

That Outcome: The conversation resulted in a hug and a handshake. She was making judgments about my character because she had not spent time getting to know me and what I am about. 

She was a “talker,” a constant talker. No one could get a word in edgewise. She just was not interested in anyone else but herself. Every conversation was about her and her life. All I had to do was nod and say, “Oh, really?” or “Isn’t that interesting!” When people approach life talking that much there is NO way for them to gather information about another person or situation. And when that happens, what is left in their heads is their interpretation of who you are and their judgments based upon past experiences with other people. In Texas, to that situation, we say, No Bueno!

In essence, the whole situation was all about a lack of trust. And mostly all relationship conflicts are about that: a lack of trust and/or a little betrayal that eats away at that trust.

The Application

It really is all about self-awareness. Self-awareness is the anchor of all relationships. We must know who we are and how we interconnect with one another. It is NOT about the other person(s). It is about you, your expectations, and what you are attempting to protect. And you are the only one who has power to change you. We cannot change other people and we are not responsible for them, only ourselves.

SO, how do I use my emotions? What do I need to do to change the situation in front of me, you ask?

In my conference session at HDI 2019 in Orlando, I will go into greater depth around the “How to” in application of your emotions in a difficult situation. I will share an explanation as to why people act the way they do, information on Mirroring Neurons, and three goals to think about when managing conflict. 

For now, keep in mind that you are your own resource. Your desire to mature and build a culture of trust and cooperation is all you have. When these uncomfortable moments arise, dive into the space between the stimulus that conflicts you and your response to that space.

  1. Breathe.
  2. Let the other party talk, gain information first, and be second to speak, if you speak at all. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to defend yourself. Just listen.
  3. Identify which emotions you can use to get the beneficial results you are seeking.
  4. Use that “space” to inject the beneficial emotion.

Deborah Monroe is one of eighteen Master EQ practitioners in the world, through the Global EQ Community of 6 Seconds. She's also an associate with the Institute for Organizational Performance and an HDI business associate. Working with all levels of executive leadership, management, and individual contributors, Deborah concentrates on integrating humans and process to create a balanced working environment. Her aim is to build understanding and empathy, creating a positive bottom line through employee and customer retention.

Tag(s): supportworld, workforce enablement, workforce enablement, leadership, people


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