Imagine this situation. You allocate the first hour of the day into a strategy document, which was postponed for a week. Yes, you lacked the discipline to do it before, but last week, one crisis followed another. In General, it was not before. And then, finally, you found the morning 90 minutes to work on the document.
But first, you decided to quickly look at the email that had accumulated over night. What happened after that? You do not have time to look around, spent 90 minutes on the correspondence, although there are no urgent letters in the mail actually was not.
By the time you came to your meeting, you are experiencing disappointment because you are unable to follow the prearranged plan. Meeting with direct subordinates devoted to discussion of the approach that it will apply in negotiations with an important client. You have strong opinions about how best to behave in a given situation, but you gave a promise to be open and show interest in the point of view of the employee, to give him guidance and not to make judgments. In the end, you want to be a Manager, inspiring his subordinates.
However, listening to how the employee describes the approach that you believe is wrong, you feel like becoming more and more irritated. On impulse, you insert some snarky remark. The employee is protected. You slip the idea that you killed it too fast. But you tell yourself that worked for years with this client, the result is very important, and you don't have time to fully listen to the explanation of a subordinate. He leaves offended and defeated.
Welcome to the unseen drama taking place inside of us all working days mostly outside of our consciousness. Most of us think that they have one "I". In fact we have two different "I" managed by two separate operating systems in different parts of our brain.
the Most obvious for us is the "I" which plans to work diligently to strategic document. He manages the prefrontal cortex with a parasympathetic nervous system. This "I" that we prefer to show the world. It is quiet, reserved, rational and capable of informed choice.
the Second "I" controls the amygdala, a small group of almond-shaped nuclei located in the midbrain, via the sympathetic nervous system. The second "I" intercepts the control every time we begin to perceive a threat or danger. It is reactive, impulsive, and operates mainly outside of conscious control.
the Second "I" is useful, for example, when the attack of a lion, but the threats that we face today, is mostly about a sense of self-worth and value. They may seem no less terrifying than those that threaten the existence, but in reality pose no threat to life. When you react to them as if you do expose themselves to mortal danger, you only aggravate the situation.
In such moments, we often justify their worst behavior higher cognitive abilities. When we feel that we have failed, we instinctively call for help "lawyer" (the term proposed by psychologist Jonathan Hidta).
"Domestic lawyer" is able to skillfully to justify, deflect, pretend, deny, attack, humiliate and blame others when we make mistakes and show bad faith. The "internal lawyer" works hard to stifle his own "inner critic" and to resist criticism from others. All this inner turmoil, reduces and absorbs our attention and depletes us.
the Problem is that most organizations spend much more time on the creation of external values, than to the satisfaction of the internal sense of value among employees. For this task it requires skills that most managers have not been taught and which rarely speaks perfect. But if you ignore the value of people, they spend more energy trying to prove this value, and they have less energy on creating the appearance of value.
Working with leaders, we found that: in order to prevent reaction of the second "I", you must develop the ability to observe both "I" in real-time. You cannot change what you don't notice, but starting to notice it, you gain a powerful tool that allows you to switch from the protection value to its creation.
well-Developed inner observer helps you monitor the fighting "I", avoiding impulsive reactions. It also allows you to ask the lawyer not to interfere when he is trying to justify our position of internal and external critics. Finally, the inner observer can recognize without judgment that we are the best and worst of the "I," and then consciously, and not reactive to choose how to respond to a difficult situation.
to increase the capacity for introspection, start with such negative emotions like impatience, frustration and anger. If you start to experience them, so prevails the second "I". Just what are these emotions the moment they arise, and you cut yourself off from them.
Watch and when you begin to be stubborn. Absolute conviction in the correctness and impulsive desire to act – a clear indication that you feel threatened and the danger.
In our work we provide the leaders a small daily support: we remind them that they need to monitor their feelings and thoughts. We also believe it is useful to create small groups for meetings at regular intervals, in which leaders can share their experiences. The feeling of support, of community, of connectedness and accountability to each other helps reduce the effects of impulses that prevent to understand their actions, to get rid of the discomfort and stop switch to survival mode before the face of the imaginary threat to our values. For starters, you can find a colleague you trust to offer him to be your partner in accountability and regularly ask each other about feedback.
And finally, in challenging moments, it is important to ask yourself two key questions – "What else is correct?" and "What is my responsibility in this matter?". Regularly questioning your own conclusions, you reduce the impact of confirmation bias , instinctively forcing you to look for evidence of what you believe. Asking yourself about your own responsibility, you resist the natural desire to blame others and play the victim and focus on their own behavior (what can best be affected). Based on these deliberate methods is a deceptively simple idea: we need to look deeper and to grow. Leaders are able to change, not just become better at what you already do. They seek a balance between courage and humility to grow and develop every day.
About the authors
Tony Schwartz (Tony Schwartz) — President and CEO of the Energy Project and author of the book "The way we work — not working."
Emily pines (Emily Pines) — managing Director of Energy Project.