Your Neighbor Just Might Be An Emotional Caveperson


When I arrived to the office this past Monday morning, I was greeted by a single piece of paper sitting on my keyboard. Our MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) facilitator has a habit of leaving little MBTI trinkets on our desks: a little placard indicating what kind of garden we would be or what Olympic sport we would be or a faux chart depicting which Harry Potter or Star Wars character we would be. I am an E-N-T-P in case you were wondering. This week’s gem was particularly fascinating as it combined two of my favorite topics: MBTI and Emotional Intelligence.

The document mapped my MBTI tendencies to the various aspects of Emotional Intelligence. For self-awareness, I tend to be confident of my analytical ability and adept at innovative problem solving. Guilty as charged. For self-management, I have relatively low impulse control, which results in spontaneous reactions. Watch out! For social awareness, I need to reduce my questioning of others. Why would you make me do that? For relationship management, I am confident in communicating with others. Thus, I shall continue my blog post.

This MBTI/Emotional Intelligence document reminds me of a really useful model or tool (if you actually put it into practice) that borrows from MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, and a book entitled “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler. If you implement this tool, you can literally change the outcome of any office situation. You can also improve your daily life and grow as an individual by simply following these four steps:

1. Sensing (from the MBTI “Z” Model) or “See and Hear” – Daily, we are bombarded by input. We are bombarded almost to the point of sensory overload if it weren’t for our magnificent brains. What input are we receiving? You saw your co-worker arrive to the office 30 minutes late. You heard your manager say, “Can I talk to you in my office?”

2. Intuition (Z Model) or “Tell a Story” – Our sensory organs pipe all of that information to a small, prehistoric part of our brain. A long time ago, we used to have to prepare to fight or run away (or freeze some might argue). News flash: We do not have to worry about dinosaurs anymore. Our amygdala is telling us that we need to get as far away from our co-worker as possible because he or she is going to vent like no other. The little walnut embedded deep within our outer brain is telling us to prepare to fight with our boss.

3. Thinking (Z Model) or “Trigger Feelings” – We need to take a few seconds, approximately six seconds, to allow our brain to think and find the appropriate feeling. At this point in time, I have no reason to suspect my co-worker. I have gone into my boss’ office five times and come out unscathed five times. It’s time to get back to the basic emotions. The basic emotions are: mad, sad, glad, surprise, and disgust. I choose to feel surprised that my co-worker was late. I choose to feel glad that my manager wants to talk to me.

4. Feeling (Z Model) or “Choose How to Act” – Our actions are no longer out of our control. We act with purpose. We ask ourselves: Is this something I can live with? I approach my co-worker pre-emptively and say, “Hey. I noticed you came in late. Is everything okay?” He appreciates you for asking. You smile at your boss and give them a dry, non-clammy handshake. She decides to give you that promotion when just a minute ago she thought you lacked confidence.

The beauty of this model is that you have entry points along the way to change the outcome. Did you really hear what you heard? Why am I telling myself this story? Is this feeling warranted? Is this the most appropriate action for this situation?

TS Hamilton is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Karen Munze

Picking one takeaway, I’m taking the idea of using six seconds to find the appropriate feeling. A lot can happen in those six seconds that could completely change the response to what was sensed.