June is Connection: Pay attention to the wake you create

June is here! The word of the month is “connection”.

As humans we connect with each other all day long. From the moment you open your eyes, yawn, and check your messages to all the events throughout the day, you connect and leave a wake behind you.
In the field of organizational psychology, the cost of this exchange is researched to develop a more meaningful connection and workplace harmony. Consider the term, emotional labor:

When you engage in emotional labor, you control your feelings to fulfill the goals and expectations of your organization. From a practical standpoint, this means that you either (a) express only your positive feelings, or (b) hide or manage your negative feelings. To deal with negative emotions, people tend to do one of the following:

From a podcast on NPR, I listened to various service organizations discuss how they managed their emotional labor in order to connect without developing burnout or job/life dissatisfaction.  “Fake it to you make it” works occasionally, but over time when you are connecting with a fake spirit or attitude, the labor will take its toll on your life.

Statistically, the more we fake it, the more unhappy we are, and this unhappiness impacts our ability to be creative and to produce quality work. Let’s face it, life is filled with connections that are hard, so what can we do?

As I listened to the podcast and read articles, I realized that many of the practices were rooted in Biblical principles, positive behavioral intervention and supports, as well as other author’s research like Brene’ Brown.

  • Empathy: Trying to understand the other person’s perspective and connecting to their story or feelings

“You seem pretty angry, what’s going on?” “How can I help?”

  • Gratitude: Being thankful for the relationship, situation, and/or connecting in the moment and offering behavior specific praise

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

“Lord what is your purpose in this connection?”

  • Behavior Specific Praise: Finding a connection through celebrating the person’s work or connection in your life

“Thank you for showing me how to analyze the data reports and present them to the staff. Your ideas enhanced my presentation!”

  • Deep Acting: You control your internal emotions, directing them to believe that you actually are happy, and enjoying the interaction with the other person. Rather than feel like you’re pretending, you convince yourself you’re not experiencing a negative reaction.

If you’ve heard the “tip of the iceberg” quote, you realize that on the surface your emotions can be impulsive and raw, but when we go deeper, we may see underlying messages or beliefs. What are they? How can you re-frame them or provide a better solution in the moment? The moment is challenging, but we can walk away, reflect, and return.

In the podcast, a successful restaurant owner discussed the importance of caring and connecting with your employees. Instead of customers first, he ran his company in which employees were put first. He found that if he took care of his employees they were more apt to care deeply for their customers.

“You reap what you sow.”  (Galatians 6:7)

Furthermore, he added this question to his hiring practices:

“What is the greatest misperception other people have of who you are?”

Implicit in that question is that you are aware of your “wake”. The impact of your connection. We should wonder often what our wake is doing to people and doing for people, and most importantly the wake you intended to leave, not the wake that’s being perceived.

Pay attention to the wake you create.

Ask these questions often of your employees, and you could adapt to your personal relationships, too.

  • What are the emotional labor requirements of your job?
  • How do you deal with these requirements?
  • How often do you experience emotional conflict?
  • Do you think emotional conflict has led to emotional exhaustion?
  • How do you manage stress and other signs of emotional exhaustion?

If you know me, you understand that I can be a pretty “feeling” person. The flip side to this is my frustration with humans (me included) who seem to not get past the “yeah but…” or “that’s just the way I am….”

The podcast challenged us to remember that our reactions, our wake, has a ripple effect. How you treat others in the moment is carried over into that person’s job and family. You are indirectly involved in the next connection of that person.  I know, we can’t control how other people react, but you can strive to leave a positive wake or connection. You can do this and hope for a better world. Be kind.

How did I come to learn about this topic?

Through connection…

A colleague at work shared the podcast because “she thought I might like it”. How did she know my interests? Connecting, listening, and taking the time to give back to the relationship. I reciprocated in that connection by trusting her recommendation and listening.  I’m grateful. I’ve listened to the podcast twice.

Article of Interest: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_44.htm

Book discussed in podcast: https://www.amazon.com/Managed-Heart-Commercialization-Human-Feeling/dp/0520272943/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528024566&sr=8-1&keywords=the+managed+heart

Brene Brown on Empathy:

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