Feeling unsafe is an uncomfortable feeling. In fact, it’s a risky business to be in. It’s a direct threat to a sense of survival, automatically triggering a fight, flight or freeze response. This response is biologically innate and a characteristic of all animals. Bad bossing makes us feel unsafe.
Feeling unsafe triggers us emotionally. A whole chain of reactions happens physiologically, generating hormones and neurotransmitters that throw off our sense of cognitive and emotional balance…our sense of safety and security. So how can we create a sense of psychological safety…for ourselves and others…and why does it even matter? Why do we need to be fully aware of the perils of bad bossing? The answer lies in harnessing our physical and emotional reactions by building skills in emotional intelligence…when our emotional intelligence (E.Q.) trumps our intelligence quotient (I.Q.) and we learn how to “manage up.”
On June 15, 2016, 25 representatives from San Diego Association of Law Libraries (SANDALL) gathered at California Western School of Law (CWSL) to learn just how to do this.
Here’s what they gained over a fun-filled two and a half hours…
1) The Power of Connections: To generate awareness around what they’re good at and not so good at when it comes to managing emotions, how they’re impacted by others emotions, and what kinds of emotions come up, participants engaged in groups of three to start talking about the impact of bad bossing. The atmosphere of the lecture hall changed in just 9 minutes!
2) The Tip of the Iceberg: We only see the tip of the iceberg above the water line, right? But there’s so much more below the water line that we can’t see…just like the titanic. When it comes to people, I.Q. and E.Q. are much like the iceberg. The tip is our I.Q. (only 20% of who we are). What’s below the water line is where our E.Q. lives…that deeper part of ourselves represented by our beliefs, expectations, assumptions or attitudes, concerns and hopes as well as our fears, values and needs. We often don’t go there because we either don’t have the skills to successfully handle those kinds of conversations OR we are simply afraid to go there, fearful of what we might uncover. Bad bosses definitely don’t go there. But through E.Q. we can build our awareness of self, learn how to manage what surfaces, become aware of how others are impacted, and then become skilled in how we manage our important relationships. Including those where we have to “manage up” to feel safe.
3) The TRIUNE Brain Theory: SANDALL also got a taste of Neuroscience 101 – just enough to show how ALL humans are hardwired for emotional reaction BEFORE cognitive understanding or making sense of things. They also learned my prescription for deep breathing as a sure fire technique for self-management. We all breathe, right? But seldom do we breathe really deeply in a way that helps manage the emotional reaction, especially when we’re triggered. This can be your best defense when dealing with a bad boss.
4) The Emotional Hijack: It feels like we’re hijacked from all logical, rationale responses when we’re triggered. The emotional volcano erupts and we become overwhelmed with emotion. FEAR, ANGER, SHAME or JOY…too often, it’s not the latter! The intensity of this hijack is directly related, and sometimes not, to the significance of the trigger. Are we puzzled or are we terrified? Are we disappointed or are we in deep despair? Are we feeling disrespected or are we furious? And, are we feeling friendly or are we ecstatic? The SANDALL folks had a chance to be exposed to some 90 different emotions to uncover those most common in their lives. A laundry list of what we feel around bad bosses was almost as long.
5) Two Minutes of Passion: This was fun…in just two short minutes, people had a chance to uncover their passions and express themselves. This was hard for some and a breeze for others. People couldn’t believe how difficult it was to either speak for two minutes uninterrupted and to listen for two minutes without interrupting. This was a good opportunity to learn more about how we speak and how we listen (or not!). They also learned how to read body language, particularly facial expressions, and to listen for tone, volume and inflection. This is a part of empathy and they learned how to use it with a bad boss.
6) Action Plan: As we wrapped up our two hours of fun and learning, I challenged them to identify one key takeaway as well as to write down what they were going to STOP doing as a result of what they learned, what they were going to START doing based on what they learned, and what they were going to CONTINUE to do because it was working. Ideas were generated on what first steps to take around their bad bosses.
At the end of the day, here’s what SANDALL participants had to say…
- Dr. Dupree has a wonderful delivery, great presence and knows how to generate an open, enthusiastic environment. The information and delivery were fantastic. J. Andrade, California Western School of Law.
- This was a very informative and intriguing workshop. It was also a lot of fun! K. Thomas, California Western School of Law.
- Dr. Dupree was both knowledgeable and an engaging speaker. Her class interactive exercises were fun and interesting. C. Valero, California Western School of Law
If you’re looking for ways to break free from an emotional past, here are three ways to do it now! Debra Dupree, PsyD, LMFT has over 30 years of experience in the psychology of people and performance.
1) Connect through her website, her newsletter, and her webinars.