High Performance in Three Steps
By Rajkumari Neogy, Executive Coach, iRestart
Stop crying. Stop it right now. Why are you crying? What is your problem? Just stop it.
When we are told to not feel our feelings as children, we become conditioned to believe that feeling our feelings is something bad. Especially if the feelings revolve around fear, hurt or worry. Often, as children, our feelings are dismissed with simple phrases like, “Don’t worry, it will be fine”, “It’s okay; these things happen — you’ll get over it”, and “It’s no big deal”.
Think back on a moment when you were challenged in some way and were dismissed about your feelings regarding a particular situation or person. What did you feel when you were dismissed? What did that person say that felt dismissive to you?
When we are told to not feel our feelings, we are going against our body’s natural, neurobiological response. Especially if that situation was scary, or hurtful. Our body is designed to recover from stress by releasing the build up of energy, whether it’s through crying, screaming, getting angry or any number of ways in which we uniquely express ourselves.
When we bring these underlying rules of engagement from our childhood to the workplace, dysfunction is almost guaranteed if we are not given permission to release and recover from our daily stresses.
1. BECOME AN FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR
The number one tactic FBI hostage negotiators use is to talk about feelings with the perpetrator. Chris Voss spent 15 years as an FBI hostage negotiator and says, “Hostage negotiators don’t kid themselves about emotions. It’s all about navigating emotions, and one step leads to another, which then puts you in a position to influence others. It’s based on trust and it allows you to influence outcomes.”
Creating trust is the basis of all relationships. HOW we create trust is through cooperation. And they way in which you cooperate determines how reliable and safe you are to others. If you commit to a deadline and you repeatedly deliver on those deadlines, then people on your team both trust you and feel safe with you. This gives you a huge advantage going into a difficult conversation when projects go off the rails.
Learning how to read how others are feeling in the moment is crucial in any meeting. It allows for you take the temperature in the room, notice tension and work through conflict. Marshall Rosenberg is the author of Nonviolent Communication, a theory that supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs. This approach is widely used globally to address and reconcile conflict. Sarah Peyton’s research took this a step further in the field of neurobiology and found that particular needs secrete certain neurotransmitters:
2. EQ TURNED INWARD
But if you have been told over and over again to not feel your feelings as a kid, then being able to notice your co-workers feelings might be uncomfortable, awkward or downright annoying. And perhaps something you might want to avoid at all costs, because as a kid, these were the rules of engagement in your household — “don’t feel your feelings”.
Promotions at the office are based on the success of a task or project. This in turn gives us experience. We know how to do something because we’ve done it many times, made mistakes and course-corrected along the way. Over time, this becomes our expertise. Your expertise makes you valuable in the workplace. Your expertise guides you in noticing gaps in your specific field of knowledge and applying tactics and strategies toward solutions. Sharing your expertise with others allows them to learn and grow.
The same applies with your feelings. Self-awareness is the time you take to learn yourself, gain experience and eventually expertise in…well, you. When you know yourself well, you understand how to navigate and recover from conflict, tension and confusion. Understanding your own emotional landscape helps others to learn and grow from you as well.
Once tactic I teach all my clients to use in moments of distress, anxiety or frustration is this sentence:
“Even though I am feeling ___________, I am grateful for ___________.”
Using this technique helps to calm the nervous system down in moments stress. When you’re able to validate your experience in the moment, your breathing becomes deeper, you create a greater sense of connection with yourself and you secrete feel-good neurotransmitters which diminish stress-related hormones.
3. CELEBRATE WINS WITH BOTH APPRECIATION AND RECOGNITION
Companies are very familiar with recognizing employees and most have built processes to do so. They internally recognize company anniversaries, milestones and promotions. Companies hope that by recognizing employees in this way, their workforce will feel valued. But this feeling for the employees is fleeting because it is based on something they did or accomplished. This strategy conditions the employee that the more they do, the more valued they will feel. Over time, this level of engagement leads to burnout potential illness. Studies done at Stanford back in 2015 showed that burnout is costing US companies $190B in health care costs and the cause for over 100,000 deaths per year.
What most companies fail to do is appreciate their employees. This component is essential to the well-being of the employee. According to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, engagement increases by 80% when employees feel appreciated.
We need to value the employee by recognizing what they DO well and appreciate them for who they ARE. Recognition is the DOING aspect of the employee and appreciation is the BEING aspect.
Knowing who you are is about feeling your feelings. When you don’t feel appreciated or welcomed or respected, you generate feelings that indicate something is amiss. Learning to understand your feelings and make them work to your advantage is key in growing a successful team and a successful company.
Rajkumari Neogy is the creator of the iRestart coaching framework, the Disruptive Diversity Boot Camp and the author of The WIT Factor: Shifting the Workplace Paradigm by Becoming Your Optimal Self.
S/He is fascinated by team culture, especially in the tech arena and believes that every individual brings a superpower that often isn’t fully unlocked. S/He provides expertise is in epigenetic coaching, intelligent bias and the neurobiology of inclusive team culture.
Hir unique framework culminates from 6 powerful methodologies that facilitates change within organizations swiftly, sustainably and permanently. S/he weaves humour and vulnerability into science and psychology to tell the powerful story of our basic human need to belong, especially at the workplace.
Over the last 20 years, s/he has worked with organizations worldwide, including Slack, Hellosign, Slack, Glympse, Salesforce, Gainsight, Twilio, Ever AI, Trumaker, Walt Disney Animation Studios, HopSkipDrive, Wells Fargo, Shuddle, Cisco Systems, Facebook, and Amazon. In 2013 she founded iRestart to address issues of team dysfunction, imposter syndrome, and feelings of exclusion.
Holding a master’s degree in Transformative Leadership Development from the CaliforniaInstitute of Integral Studies, Rajkumari sits quite comfortably at the intersection of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB), technology, culture and empathic language for business.
Possessing a rare blend of techno-babble and touchy-feely, s/he believes that the qualities of passionate self-reflection and dedicated curiosity (two sides of the same coin) define true leadership.
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