Ep39: How to Combat Your Inner Business Toddler

In business, emotions can run high. And when emotions are high, often our inner Business Toddler comes out, which can make professional discourse seem impossible. In those moments, all of our instincts are counterproductive to a healthy work environment.

So what do we do about it?

Let’s talk about it in this episode of So Here’s My Story.

Why is that important for business?

Often, sorting out business issues often comes down to what is essentially business couples therapy. And these individual disputes often come down to a simple decision: “Am I more attached to being right, or solving the problem?”

Almost all of our instincts in highly emotional situations – especially those situations where we are trying to be professional – actually make the problems worse. Like when a toddler is acting out, we need to ask ourselves what unmet need is being expressed by the unwanted behavior. And when things go wrong in business or life, adults often revert to the flailing emotional responses of a toddler. In those moments, we can either be superior, or we can address the problem from a place of empathy and curiosity.

It can feel great to put the person acting out “in their place”. It feels good to acknowledge “Mic Drop” conversations. But it is counter-intuitive; the cutting comment rarely solves the problem. Like eating 2 Krispy Kreme donuts, it can feel satisfying in the moment, but leave you with regret later.

This is where leadership is key…

In those moments, as a leader, we need to ask ourselves “do I want to lead, or do I want to win?” Because the person who has the opportunity to change this dynamic is not the person having the bad reaction. That is the role of the listener.

But what if the person behaving badly is the leader? People tend to think leadership is a destination, but the further up you go, the more insecure you are, and the less certain you are about your choices because there is less of a path to follow. People stop telling you that you are doing a good job and start treating you like you are infallible. We must listen to our leaders with the same empathy, the same curiosity, and try to discern the unmet need.

We need to see through the lens of empathy, even if they are the leader, and just be curious.

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