Written by Telana Simpson
“We know that, you’ve said it before” was the response I got when I was sharing my emotions with the team around an issue to do with a long term project I’ve been working on.
That interruption stopped my train of thought and instead of moving from expressing the emotion I had to next share the underlying issue, I found that I rather had to deal with the interruption.
The next day after the meeting, as I was reflecting on the decisions we had made as a team, I realized that my initial issue had still not been addressed, and all we had done was put a band-aid on the problem. I felt even more frustrated and knew that we’d have to have another discussion in the near future to find the solution.
So what happened that the purpose of the first meeting was not met and the issue was not resolved? Emotions.
- Do emotions have no place in the boardroom at all? Was the person who interrupted me so uncomfortable with other people’s emotions that he would just brush them away and so miss their message?
- Was I not expressing my emotion in a way where I owned it, and shared it respectfully and in a controlled manner, so that it opened up dialogue, instead of closing it?
- Did emotions have no place in this team, sitting around the table?
- Do emotions have no place in the boardroom at all?
What are emotions?
Emotions are the most useful “things”, and at the same time, they are just emotions. They are signals that help us navigate our way through life, and we experience them as energy that is in motion (e-motion) in our bodies. Our own emotions signal to us that there is a difference between our expectations of a situation or person, and the reality of that situation, or the facts of how that person behaves or believes. Emotions of other people give us a clue about how they perceive the situation, and what their expectations are. They are all useful- and I mean all emotions (“negative” and “positive”).
Applying this to my meeting, I wonder if the outcome would have been different if the other person had let me finish- if he had not only listened to me as I expressed my emotions, but also heard me. When someone appears emotional, and especially if they are repeating themselves, it might be a sign that they have not felt heard and understood yet. That, or they have not yet uncovered for themselves the underlying issue behind the emotion, and hence feel the need to keep talking about the emotion.
Other people’s emotions
A key part of developing our emotional intelligence, is to be OK with other people’s emotions – with them having them and with them expressing them. When we can just allow the person to express themselves, and we go beyond listening to really hearing what they are saying, even asking what is behind their emotional expression, we will gain valuable information. And that information will help us to not only resolve the issue, but also to build the relationship through the uncomfortable and difficult moment of confrontation or conflict.
Our own emotions
Another key aspect of emotional intelligence, is our own expression of our emotions. When we can own them as ours, and not something someone else made us feel, we can express them in a way where we do not come across as accusatory, and put the other person in the defensive, feeling they need to explain or protect themselves. There is a way to share emotions, using language like “I feel hurt when you…” (rather than “you hurt me!”) that shares useful information that can improve the relationship and take it forward.
And there are often physical signs of emotions that go with their expression – like tears, skin colour changes, the raising of voices, gestures, etc. The degree to which these are present gives us information about the degree of importance about what we are talking about, and so the amount of focus we need to give to that issue.
A Team’s emotions
Thus the degree of emotional intelligence of the people in a team, sitting around a table, will determine the degree to which emotions will be used for the higher good of all, and how they will be used to assist the team in moving through a conflict issue- with all its emotions- more quickly, and more effectively.
A starting point is that each person has permission from the team (and themselves) to own and express their emotions respectfully. That means that it is OK to have emotions and express them with the team, and the guidelines are just in how they are expressed, to take into account time constraints and respect for others.
I believe that those boardrooms that allow emotions into them, and encourage their healthy expression around the boardroom table, will be the teams that not only excel at their tasks and achieve their purposes, but also will create healthy and strong individuals who will become role models and leaders in their communities.
Develop your Emotional Intelligence at the next “Shot of EQ” workshop.
About the Author:
Telana is a dynamic, transformational Personal Coach and Blogger who specializes in communicating and relating. She is fascinated by consciousness evolution and goes on adventures to push her boundaries and preconceptions. She offers coaching and training programmes to help individuals develop their ability to express themselves and their potentials and improve their relationships, and is a host of an online TV show.