In the early days of the coaching profession there was focus on the stories we tell ourselves. These stories impact our perspective, emotions and actions, as we build our careers and work every day.
Do you have a “story” that you tell yourself? Perhaps the story is that you are trapped in your current circumstances, that the world is against you, that there is no place to go or that you are underappreciated. Or, perhaps your story is that there are no limits, that you can do whatever you put your mind to or that the world will support you in your dreams. See the difference?
What stories do you tell yourself?
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We all try to keep things cool and to address problems before they get out of control. However, sometimes things catch fire, such as the escalation of a conflict, a project getting out of control, personnel shortages or major disruptions within an organization. When things catch fire, how do you handle them?
It always pays to step back, if you can, and assess the situation. If you cannot, immediate, temporary action may be needed to put the flames out, such as separating parties or amping up with more personnel to meet a deadline. Be aware of your emotions and stress level when something catches fire. Do you panic or freeze? Do you become fearful? These responses can hinder your effectiveness and should be managed.
When things catch fire, a clear, calm head is your best ally. With that, you can lead and manage well and put the fire out.
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Your awareness of the strength of emotions, personal demands and impact of the holidays is a starting point for managing through them. The holidays are not business as usual.
How are your colleagues, team and you yourself doing during the holidays? Are people keeping their focus, maintaining productivity and collaborating well? Or, are you noticing changes, gaps or problems caused by the holidays? The holidays call for adjusting the way you manage yourself and others. Best to realistically assess what can get done during the holidays as well as what must get done and plan accordingly. Doing so will serve you and your team well and let you begin 2016 on top of your game.
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Most people favor either their mind or their emotions over the other. It’s a matter of orientation, situation and preference. Do you favor your mind or your emotions when you are managing? I do not have to explain the difference in the two approaches. However, your choice (and it is a choice) does impact your managing style and results. The ideal approach is to balance your mind and emotions when managing.
Can you think of a time you were managing and favored your emotions? Can you think of another time you favored your mind? How did they work out? Were you in control or did they run away with you? Of prime importance, as a manager, is to use your mind and emotions with full awareness. They are great tools, but they need to be managed, too.
Balancing your mind and emotions when you are managing is a skill that will make you a better and happier manager.
I wrote another post on this subject a while back titled Balancing Mind And Emotions When You Fire Someone. You can find it here.
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Sometimes you can get bogged down in life – with too much to do, too many irritations, pressure, unsettled emotions or dissatisfaction, for example. Things can be that way at times – it’s natural. You don’t want to stay there too long, however. Joy can be a great antidote to feeling bogged down. Sometimes, joy presents itself and sometimes it doesn’t. At those times when joy is not present and you need some, you have the choice to create joy.
What brings you joy? Create a bit of it the next time life bogs you down.
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Sometimes in a rush or the heat of a moment, we can forget that we have choice in how we communicate with others. A big lesson for me has been discerning the difference between response and reaction in my communications. Reaction is defined as an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. Response is a reply or an answer. The difference between the two may be subtle, but can make a huge difference.
The way I’ve come to see this is, when something provokes a reaction in me, it is best that I settle and center before I communicate. A reaction is not under my control when it is an unconsidered or emotional one. Reaction is provoked by an action or feeling. A response, in contrast, is of my own making.
Here’s an example: if someone is upset with me, a natural reaction may be to lash back defensively. However, this could escalate the conversation in ways I do not want, especially in a work situation. My reaction is caused by their heightened emotions, not what I want to do. In contrast, a response is considered and dictated by me. The next time an opportunity presents itself, try responding instead of reacting. I think you’ll see its merits.
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As I was writing my last blog post about being “hooked” by emotional issues that come up when you are coaching someone, I thought that it is not just during coaching that emotions can hook us.
How often are your emotions present during your workday? Once emotions are present they can hook you, leading possibly to losing your center, reacting in an inappropriate way or taking offense. Emotional self-awareness is called for to avoid emotional hooks. Emotions can be a runaway train, but when you are aware and in the driver’s seat you can manage your emotions and avoid being “hooked”.
Have any emotions hooked you this week?
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When you are coaching, “issues” are bound to come up. By issues, I mean topics that evoke emotions, anxieties, strong opinions and the like in the person you are coaching or yourself. When issues are introduced, you can get “hooked” by your own reactions to them. When this happens, you as coach have to maintain an objective presence and continue your coaching with a focus on the person you are coaching, not yourself. This can be a challenging thing to do.
Of highest importance is your level of self-awareness. You need to be able to discern very quickly when your own emotions start coming into play. If you feel yourself getting hooked in a coaching conversation, pull yourself back and regroup. Find ways to do this as quickly as you can. If you find you cannot, suggest a short break. Then, return to the coaching with your focus restored. After the coaching ends, you can deal with what happened. Getting hooked serves no one and damages your effectiveness as a coach.
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Judgment comes naturally. It is an important ability when it comes to your own actions. Judgment of others, however, is a different thing. The judgments you make of others inform the actions you take and the strategies you develop. They had better be accurate.
Limited information, ignited emotions and internal biases can easily skew your judgments of other people and situations. Judgments must be seen for what they are; they are not facts, but your perception. Exercising caution and diligence in your judgment of others can serve you well.
Keep your judgments of others as objective as you can. Get the facts that are available, make them from a centered place and do not confuse them with truth. Judgments have their own power and are best arrived at carefully.
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Sometimes you can find yourself on the edge of something and feeling a bit unsteady. It can be an edge between two options, or decisions, an edge that you are starting to step off involuntarily or an edge of conflicting emotions. When you are teetering on an edge, gather your awareness; you don’t want to fall.
You can get yourself to an edge unconsciously and be surprised that you are there. Or, your actions can lead you there step-by-step. When you find yourself on an edge, best to regroup immediately, figure out what got you there and steady yourself. Then, you can take the action that is in your best interest.
Have you found yourself teetering on the edge recently? Did you get yourself back to solid ground?
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