Leadership and workplace agility expert Christine Comaford explains how to change the way your brain works, increase your emotional agility, and improve your performance.
Andrea is senior vice president (SVP) of product development at a midsized high-tech firm. As the SVP, Andrea’s work often involves collaborating with other designers and staff, gaining feedback and adjusting accordingly. Teamwork is necessary for successful product development.
Often when Andrea receives feedback on her plan or when the expected result is changed by others in the organization, Andrea finds herself getting disappointed. She then spirals down the Emotion Wheel from disappointment to powerlessness and eventually to helplessness. She decides and believes that her work is not valuable.
Andrea then does what she knows best to manage her experience of helplessness. She gives up, walks outside, and numbs this painful experience with a cigarette.
Do you ever experience this at work? Do you ever find yourself in a downward spiral, even when there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation for why you are experiencing what you are experiencing?
When Andrea approached us for coaching, she decided she wanted more choice about the situation, versus reacting negatively when people at her firm changed her product plans. Andrea knew that feedback and change were necessary, but knowing that didn’t change her experience of the situation.
We unpacked the structure of Andrea’s experience first. We identified the triggers (the Vs and As) that were causing the negative feelings (K−). This allowed us to understand how Andrea was creating her experience of hopelessness in response to changes in plans at work.
Then we used VAK Anchoring to change the Vs, As, and Ks of her experience of changes to her product plans. When you change the structure, you change the beliefs, and hence you change the experience. We did this to add more choices to Andrea’s menu, in the form of more positive Ks.
We used an Outcome Frame to clarify exactly what Andrea wanted regarding changes to her plans. Andrea wanted to feel strong and clear on what was needed so she could provide it to others. She wanted to collaborate with them rather than avoiding and walking away from them.
We then used the VAK Anchoring tool again to anchor this new Desired State so that she could step into the more productive behaviors that come with it.
Result: Emotional Agility
By unpacking how Andrea structured her experience, clarifying the outcome she wanted, and anchoring new choices, we changed Andrea’s experience from disappointment to curiosity.
Rather than freezing and walking away, Andrea now gets curious (K+) whenever people try to change the plan. She wants to learn more about how they see it and why they have recommended the changes.
Instead of deciding that her work isn’t valuable, Andrea feels stronger and clearer about collaborating with her “plan editors” on a solution. She also has a positive feeling of being understood and is proud of her ability to choose her behavior. In short, she is now able to shift from Critter State to Smart State.
What behavior would you like to shift? In my next blog I’ll show you exactly how to do it!
Christine Comaford is a Leadership and Workplace Agility Expert. She is the author of Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times and SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. The potent neuroscience techniques she teaches are immediately applicable to help leaders expand their vision and more effectively influence outcomes.