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Leadership Thought #430 – Be True To Your Emotions And Allow Others To Share Their Truth With You

March 29, 2013

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In my line of work, you know you have tapped into a genuine problem when you encounter disproportionate emotions.  There have been many times when I have sat across from someone and watched him or her break down. I learned a long time ago to let the other individual have their moment and not try to downplay or negate their emotion.  You do not make someone feel better by making him or her feel embarrassed or disappointed about their feelings.  All of us hit an emotional “brick wall” occasionally and can become frustrated/upset with the rigors of life and work.  We all need people we can turn to, so we can be our authentic selves, even when this isn’t pretty or easy to watch.

Men are especially hardwired not to show emotion.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched another man fight back their emotional response to something.  However, you can always see it in the eyes, which are indeed the “window to the soul.”  Pain and sadness are easy to spot but not so easy to surface (at least initially).  You can only internalize core emotions for so long until the pressure becomes too much to handle.  Unfortunately, men seem much more comfortable with anger which often shrouds these other feelings.  Many of us also self-medicate in a variety of ways to numb our response to a given situation.

True love and friendship often involves the courage to ask tough questions and then letting silence do the heavy lifting until you get an honest answer. You must keep digging to get to the root cause of what is really going on with those about whom you care.  Just make sure you don’t push too hard too soon and let the other person dictate the pacing if there is progress.  You also need to model the behavior you would like to see in others and be vulnerable yourself.  It is a professional prerequisite if you have chosen a career that involves helping other people navigate the often-tumultuous sea of life.

I am glad I grew up in an environment where it was okay to be me and not cover up how I was feeling.  My mother and sisters were especially helpful in this regard.  I honestly believe that wars have been started and businesses run into the ground by leaders who were unable to find an appropriate outlet for their emotional baggage.  Lack of honest communication and emotional connection certainly ends many marriages.  We all “feel” all the time.  It’s just that most of the time we operate on an even keel basis because the stimuli are harmless and don’t require all that much from us.  However, each of us will inevitably encounter situations that challenge our existing emotional capacity. Embrace these moments as growth opportunities rather than trying to avoid, suppress or negate them.  Be true to your emotions and allow others to share their truth with you…it will make your life easier, richer, and more meaningful.