How to stop spreading negative feelings in the workplace.
You are a manager leading a team. You had a great morning, cleared your inbox, completed a slide deck and you are heading to a one-to-one with John. You see him, greet and proceed to start the conversation.
John looks frazzled, anxious, angry even. The conversation starts off with small talk, but you can’t help by feel nervous, on edge. The conversation proceeds nervously, tense. You no longer feel at ease, the glow from a great morning dissipates and you feel anxious.
What just happened?
Daniel Goleman says the following:
“The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.”
Before our thinking brain understands the situation that we are in, you have already begun to react emotionally. John’s anxiety has infected you.
“Part of the unintended oftentimes unrecognised responsibility of a leader is to actually be aware of their own emotional state.” – Jerry Colonna
What can we do about it?
Introducing, Emotional Wi-Fi. Daniel Goleman’s coined that term through his work in psychology in the workplace. Manager’s are constantly pulled in many different directions and we much be aware of our own emotions as it can affect how others behave.
“…an interesting replication of family dynamic known as a company in which your emotional state starts to have an
emotional impact on the other people in the company.” – Jerry Colonna
A quick technique shared by startup and executive coach Jerry Colonna is called red-yellow-green. Before start a meeting, identify what state of mind we are in by asking the following: Are you feeling red, yellow or green?
Here’s what the colours mean:
Red: “I am off the charts!”
I am physically present, however I am not mentally present. My mind and emotions are elsewhere.
* I could be feeling angry, anxious, sad. I don’t have to share more if I don’t want to .
Yellow: “I’m here but sort of not here.”
I am physically present, however I can’t fully concentrate on this conversation. I feel distracted.
Green: “I am fully present!”
I am here, body, mind and soul and ready to fully engage in conversing about the work at hand. You have my full, undistracted attention!
“The worst cases of emotional Wi-Fi are when we’re both in red or yellow and, and it’s not acknowledged then it just sort of spreads.” – Ben Rubin
Red feelings can be contagious. By asking this question are essentially practicing micro-mindfulness to be self-aware of our own emotional state and not be as affected by others around us.
By sharing our emotional states, it breaks the negative aspects of those feelings and creates space for compassion and empathy, and ultimately a more human workplace.
Jerry Colonna introduces red-yellow-green at the one hour mark in episode #67 of his podcast, Reboot.