What State Are You In?
Understand how emotions shift in us all day long and how to best navigate them
At the start of a meeting with a potential new client, we sat discussing what was going on with his team, and why some of the key people were avoiding communicating with each other. Let’s call him John, said something along the lines of ‘well, we’ve brought you in because it’s probably all about the touchy, feely stuff and Kay, I don’t do that’. ‘You don’t do that?’ I said, risking, I suppose, being shown the door, ‘You don’t do that? Everyone does that John, everyone does that all the time, it’s what it’s all about.’ How’s that for direct? How’s that for an opinion? It’s mine and I know it to my core. Two choices – as ever – take it or leave it but it’s true.
When someone explained to me once that our emotions can be defined as ‘energy-in-motion’ it took on new meaning, one that really makes sense and, to all those ‘oh, I avoid the touchy-feely stuff’ out there, think about emotion like this – it’s ‘energy-in-motion’. Your energy, at any given moment, can change to another energy and you behave differently. Something else happens and, depending how you decide to react to it, (notice I said ‘how you decide’) then your emotional state changes again. It can be like being on a roller coaster.
As you go through your day, start noticing your own emotions and, crucially too, others’ (they’re on display, you just have to notice them). As you become more and more aware that emotion is driving everything, and everyone, you’ll be able to understand so much more about other people’s emotional states – and so much more about your own.
Here’s a typical scenario that plays out every day, everywhere for someone, somewhere – us included. I’ve put the ‘state’ in italics.
Rushing to a meeting to avoid being late (excitement, fear) you arrive just as the meeting’s starting (anxiety, embarrassment). As you grab a coffee and your seat (relief, anticipation) you’re asked a question (surprise and fear again). Someone else chimes in to help you (relief and surprise) and you also gather your thoughts and add your opinion (relief and anticipation). The meeting carries on and you notice yourself relaxing (contentment and trust) and you’re asked to be involved in a new project (surprise and joy). You know it’ll be hard work with a lot riding on it and you say ‘yes, great’ (anticipation, fear, joy) and you all agree to meet again in two weeks to update everyone (anticipation, trust, anxiety). Off you go to your desk and pick up the phone to tell your partner about this opportunity (excitement and surprise mixed with anxiety).
Can you ‘feel’ just from reading the above, how much energy-in-motion is going on for you, just in that meeting?
We are constantly shifting and changing gear with our emotions and the more we understand about how that affects us, and those around us, the more we can start to take notice of where we are in our emotional journey.
Ideas for you to start working with today:
- Notice – really notice – how you’re feeling.Try to tell yourself which emotion you’re feeling as you go through your day. Does this emotion serve you best for what’s going on?
- Knowing now how we ‘drive’ our own emotions, moment by moment, start to drive your own more. Decide, ‘am I going to allow this situation to make me feel angry?’ or ‘if I were only to feel happy about this, what would I have to think about instead?’
- Notice how others reacting/responding to thingsand – crucially here – notice how they make you feel (or how you allow them to make you feel). Towards the end of your day today, run through which emotions came up for you and what was happening when they did? As you navigate the choppy waters of corporate working life, remember that everyone’s in an ‘emotional state’ all the time and it’s worth considering your own as you approach people. They have to control their own states – whether they know it or even try but you can always choose how you respond. Always remember that. I do.
‘Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realising it.’
~ Vincent Van Gogh
Let’s make it your time to shine, in your own way. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards?
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