Feelings are Only Indicators! The Four Steps to a Low-Drama Team
– Bill Stierle
As we’re working on our nonprofit vision, we run into roadblocks. We get aggravated that teams aren’t performing the way we wish. We get frustrated when we’re learning new software programs. We get annoyed when Bob asks about bookkeeping issues when we just want to focus on the vision and the people. “Negative” emotions aren’t bad, they are only indicators.
- Shift Your Judgments to Observations. What’s the difference? Judgmental words cause physiological changes that prevent us from being understanding and compassionate to the other person or ourselves. We get stuck in black-and-white thinking of “should” and “should not,” creating a flight, fight, or freeze reaction. Observation allows us to communicate compassionately about the heart of the matter. We identify what is, and then have the ability to act from a place of love, freedom, and choice.
- Identify and Increase Your Emotional Vocabulary. “Human beings are born with the emotional capacity of a symphony orchestra but most people walk through life as if they were blowing through a tin whistle.” – psychologist Rollo May.
Too often in the nonprofit world, we have the belief that there are “positive” and “negative” emotions. We believe we need to rid ourselves of “bad” emotions. They are indicators, like the oil light in our car. If we think the oil light is bad, then the oil will never be taken care of. Don’t disregard and judge the oil light.
Let’s imagine George, playing soccer when he feels ankle pain. He thinks, “I’ll push through, the pain will go away,” and continues playing. The next day, in excruciating pain, he goes to the hospital. The doctor finds a broken ankle; because George played on it, he has serious damage. All emotions work in the same way. If we’re feeling something, even minor, and do not acknowledge our feeling, we often make it worse, or at least leave it unresolved.
- Connecting the Emotion to the Need. “At the core of all anger (emotion) is a need that is not being fulfilled.” – international mediator, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Judith, the assistant director, is attending a banquet celebrating the completion of their 3-month-long youth program. Without her, the program wouldn’t have been a success. As the banquet concludes, the MC announces special thanks to Mary, the program director. Judith feels disheartened, “Without me, this project wouldn’t have had the success it did.” Judith’s needs for acknowledgement, recognition, and consideration were not met, thus triggering her pain. What are Judith’s options in regards to her emotions now? 1) Suppress her feelings, playing the Nice Dead Person, 2) Carry her resentment, becoming a Monster Person, or 3) something else.
- Make a Clear and Present Request. George needed to give himself empathy, to acknowledge his broken ankle. A clear and present request in that moment would be, “I feel hurt, and I need understanding about the pain in my ankle. I need to care for myself.”
Judith needed acknowledgement, recognition, and consideration from others by being noted. Her clear and present request, “I feel disheartened about not being acknowledged and mentioned during the banquet. Would you print an article in the next month’s newsletter regarding my contribution?”
Notice, in both examples, the observation, feeling, need and request.
Bill Stierle is a dynamic and commanding thought leader in the integration of Emotional Intelligence & Thinking Styles Technology, with 23 years of consulting expertise. He has worked with business schools, Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations and countless government institutions throughout the world. The founder of Corporate Culture Development, he has extensive knowledge for developing and implementing successful training programs.
This article is reprinted from the September 2014 issue of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today!
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