This week, Eliot and Jodi talk about those moments in business where we have irrational, emotional reactions and what that intrepid traveler, Indiana Jones, teaches us about how to deal with them like adults.
Why is that important for business?
We need to remember that it’s not just business; it’s personal. And when things get personal, we don’t always have the capacity to respond rationally.
We all make irrational decisions; we all think like petulant children sometimes. And even though these irrational reactions are by definition irrational, they are still every bit as real. Ignoring them, or dismissing them as silly, is dangerous. Acknowledging “yes, I am having the emotions of a 5-year-old” and owning it helps you move past it.
As long as, in these emotional states, it feels like an issue of winning or losing, there is no place to go.
When your value feels threatened, blood goes away from your smart, nuanced prefrontal cortex and goes to your instinctual fight or flight lizard brain, making it very hard to see the grayscale in the middle. Things start feeling binary, and you can’t see the options in between. In these moments, our brains are amazing at generating unsatisfying solutions.
And just like in Indiana Jones and The Holy Grail, when you have to deal with these uncomfortable and irrational emotions, you have to walk the path and just have to have faith that there is something solid under your feet. Because, as Susan Campbell’s important work points out, most of the communication is trying to get someone to react or not react a certain way. That is not communication; that is control.
When talking about these hard things, you have to talk about what is real. And instead of focusing on winning or losing, in these conversations you need to focus on the third entity: the relationship. What does a healthy next step forward look like for the relationship? When you are standing in the ocean, the place where waves crash hardest is when the water is at torso level. You have to either push through to get to the deeper water so you can ride the current, or retreat and go shallower. When you go deeper into these conversations, even if doesn’t go the way you were hoping for, it is still way easier than the crashing waves where you were. There is no way, in that place of being battered by the waves, that you can do your best work.
So ask yourself: what helped release the tension of those irrational fears in the past? Is there a way to do that with intention the next time you recognize yourself standing where the waves are crashing into you the hardest?
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