How many conflicts could be averted if we had selective amnesia with our rivals or foes? Our conversations would then be free of the tiny microexpressions and unconscious vocal tones that send out defensive messages (despite our best intentions). The problem is, our brain scrutinizes our environment for threats and then sears these threat-memories deep into our mind — for our protection. Our brain doesn’t want us to have amnesia precisely because we would then be more vulnerable to dangers around us. Even if we can’t control our unconscious nonverbal behaviors, we can try to compensate for them.
The first step is to allow myself to feel my emotions and examine them without judgment. The next step is even more difficult — to determine if my emotional “data” reflects outer reality.
One danger of not understanding our own feelings is attributing them to others. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own [...]
I’m always amazed to hear the stories of how people subtly fight at work. Through procrastination, gossip, stonewalling, and other passive-aggressive methods, co-workers can find clever ways to obstruct progress while appearing helpful. So much conflict can be hidden under the surface of our actions and conversations. In the theatre, this is called “subtext.” Here [...]
One of my triggers is a desire to “fight for my rights” if I sense that I’m not supported in my work. My fight response may manifest subtly as a tenacious search for an “unavailable” library book or the dogged pursuit of information from a tight-lipped colleague. But underneath my smiling mask, I’m angry and [...]
When I moved from working in the theatre to working in an office, I was astounded by the difference in attitudes and norms. My new organization and the workplaces of my clients seemed filled with unhappiness and dysfunction. Could I use my theatre training to help transform the malaise I saw everywhere? While my clients [...]
Nancy confided to me of a difficult relationship at work. She said she had been friendly to “Bill” when he first arrived, but his sour expressions angered her. He never acknowledged her presence and Nancy had had enough. She was now offering Bill an angry expression in return. She would show him. “I’m not willing [...]
My favorite part of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, is Appendix B that outlines the “Hallmarks of an Emotional Mind.” If you’ve had a reaction and wonder if your emotions have “hijacked” you, look to see if your reactions fit this list: 1. A quick but sloppy response: an accurate perception is sacrificed for speed. Speed [...]
I'm not a brain scientist, but I've been thinking about mirror neurons after seeing a wonderful video on them. These specialized brain cells help us relate to our surroundings and other people. Mirror cells build empathy and connection. They are activated every time we see or hear.